501(c)(4)s have become a popular way for some politically minded groups to organize. The groups are not required to publicly name their donors, but most of their work cannot be classified as political.
The IRS has indicated that its move was made by “career civil servants,” that the decision-making process happened solely within the agency and that the new examinations were not part of a broader look at 501(c)(4)s. But the six GOP senators — who include Orrin HatchOrrin HatchOvernight Finance: US preps cases linking North Korea to Fed heist | GOP chair says Dodd-Frank a 2017 priority | Chamber pushes lawmakers on Trump's trade pick | Labor nominee faces Senate US Chamber urges quick vote on USTR nominee Lighthizer Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE of Utah, the Finance panel’s ranking member — still appear skeptical.
“We would expect that decisions regarding particular enforcement actions would be made by career civil servants,” wrote the senators, who also sounded concerned about the possible retroactive enforcement of the gift tax. “The more pressing question, not answered to date, is whether political appointees inside or outside the IRS were involved in any way in the decision to prioritize this category of cases.”
The Finance senators asked for the names of IRS officials who worked on the issue, as well as any correspondence between the agency and the White House and Treasury Department. They also are seeking, by the end of the month, any examination of First Amendment implications of enforcing the gift tax on 501(c)(4)s by the IRS .
In addition to Hatch, the GOP letter was signed by Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican; Pat RobertsPat RobertsDems mock House GOP over lack of women in healthcare meeting Perdue vows to be chief salesman for US agriculture abroad GOP senator apologizes for mammogram joke MORE of Kansas; John CornynJohn CornynThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill MORE of Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; John ThuneJohn ThuneThis week: GOP picks up the pieces after healthcare defeat Lawmakers want infrastructure funded by offshore tax reform Senate GOP hedges on ObamaCare repeal timeline MORE of South Dakota; and Richard BurrRichard BurrSenate committee to question Kushner over Russian meetings: report Devin Nunes has jeopardized the oversight role of Congress Schumer: Trump must apologize for wiretapping claim MORE of North Carolina, the panel’s newest member.