By Jay Heflin - 09/29/10 01:35 PM EDT
"Political campaigns and powerful individuals should not be able to use tax-exempt organizations as political pawns to serve their own special interests," Baucus said in prepared remarks. "The tax exemption given to non-profit organizations comes with a responsibility to serve the public interest and Congress has an obligation to exercise the vigorous oversight necessary to ensure they do."
The letter to the IRS comes as Senate Democratic leaders failed to advance the Disclose Act, a bill requiring major campaign donors to make their contributions public.
The legislation was created in reaction to the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, which ruled corporations are covered under the First Amendment. The ruling essentially removed campaign funding limits for these organizations.
The Finance Chairman has asked Shulman to review major 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) organizations involved in political campaigns and determine if the activity is the primary focus for the groups. The Commissioner has also been asked to determine if these groups are advancing the agenda of major donors.
Shulman has been asked to report his findings to Baucus as soon as possible.
Based upon what is discovered, the Finance Committee could open its own investigation into the matter.