Lankford, Colleagues Want to Block Democrats’ Anti-Free-Speech, Anti-Privacy Proposal

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), and their colleagues to introduce the Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act, which would prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from being used as a political weapon against conservative nonprofit groups. 

From 2010 to 2012, the Obama IRS spent over two years systematically targeting conservative tax-exempt groups. The Trump administration released a final rule in May 2020 that prevented the IRS from targeting certain tax-exempt groups based on their political beliefs. House Democrats’ H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and Senate companion bill, S. 1, seek to repeal and undermine the Trump rule to weaponize the IRS to target nonprofit organizations based on the applicants’ political and policy positions. Lankford spoke on the Senate floor last week and following President Biden’s joint address to Congress in opposition to H.R. 1/S. 1.

The Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act codifies the Trump rule that protects groups regardless of their political ideology or beliefs and prevents the IRS from doxing donors to these groups. Removing the requirement to report the names and addresses of donors helps protect taxpayers’ First Amendment rights: such information is not needed for tax administration purposes.

Joining Lankford, McConnell, and Braun are Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Mike Lee (R-UT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), John Barrasso (R-WY), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Steve Daines (R-MT), Richard Burr (R-NC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rick Scott (R-FL), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), JIm Inhofe (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Thune (R-SD), Todd Young (R-IN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Hoeven (R-ND), and John Kennedy (R-LA).

The bill is endorsed by American Commitment, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Association of Mature American Citizens, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Club for Growth, Freedom Works, Heritage Action for America, Institute for Free Speech, National Taxpayers Union, and People United for Privacy.

??????? “Americans should not be targeted simply due to the views they hold, political or otherwise. Unfortunately, we’ve seen in the past exactly what happens when the federal government is empowered to go after people for just that. Senator Braun’s leadership in preventing the federal government from weaponizing the IRS against its own citizens is not only laudable, but critical to the preservation of our constitutionally-guaranteed rights,” said Adam Brandon, President, FreedomWorks

“Senator Braun and Senator McConnell should be applauded for introducing the Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act. The IRS has an extensive track record of ineptitude, incompetence, and targeting taxpayers based on their political beliefs. This bill will codify important protections for non-profit organizations irrespective of their political affiliation and ensure that the IRS has one less tool to harass Americans that are exercising their first amendment rights,” said Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform

“The IRS should not be the speech police, and the ‘Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act’ would make sure it isn’t. The bill is good for both free speech and good government. It would encourage more Americans to join and support nonprofits by protecting their personal information from prying bureaucrats. The IRS itself has said collecting this information is an unnecessary burden. Senator Braun’s bill offers an alternative to efforts to politicize and weaponize the IRS, like H.R. 1 and S. 1, and lets the agency focus on providing taxpayer service and fair enforcement of the tax laws. The Institute for Free Speech appreciates the efforts of Senator Braun, Leader McConnell, and the other cosponsors of this bill for supporting Americans’ privacy rights,” said David Keating, President, Institute for Free Speech

“People shouldn’t have to choose between supporting a cause and becoming a political target. Stripping people of their privacy makes it easier for politicians of all stripes to monitor, intimidate, and silence people who join movements those in power oppose. This bill protects the rights of all Americans to support the causes they care about. And we are proud to stand in support of it,” said Brent Wm. Gardner, Chief Government Affairs Officer, Americans for Prosperity

“Transparency is for government and privacy is for people. The “Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act” is important legislation that will ensure the IRS does not collect and store nonprofit donors’ private information—information the IRS does not need to enforce tax code. This prevents the IRS from becoming the “speech police” and infringing on Americans’ constitutionally protected activities and beliefs,” said Heather Lauer, Executive Director, People United for Privacy

“We support the Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act to codify the May 2020 rule that ended the forced disclosure of private donor lists. This information had no legitimate use—but was frequently subject to misuse and abuse. The “transparency” rationale put forward by Democrats is a dead giveaway—confidential information can’t be transparent unless it is improperly and illegally leaked,” said Phil Kerpen, President, American Commitment

“AMAC Action is pleased to support the Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act. This legislation is necessary to safeguard people’s privacy rights and ensure that Americans do not become political targets simply because they take an opposing position to that of those who are currently in power,” said Bob Carlstrom, President, AMAC Action

“While Democrats push their dream bill, the Corrupt Politicians Act (S. 1) to put Americans who support conservative organizations on a list to be targeted by the woke mob, Senator Braun is pushing back. The Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act is a welcome defense of Americans’ First Amendment right to freely associate with groups that align with their values. No American should fear government retribution based on their religious or political beliefs, and this legislation helps prevent a repeat of the Obama-era IRS targeting scandal,” said Garrett Bess, Vice President, Heritage Action for America

“The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste strongly supports the ‘Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act,’ introduced by Sen. Mike Braun and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. The legislation will codify IRS rules that prevent nonprofit organizations from being subject to intrusive and partisan IRS interference with their First Amendment rights. S. 1 and H.R. 1 include provisions that would begin to undermine that rule as part of a larger effort to regulate political activity and free speech. Sens. Braun and McConnell should be commended for introducing this legislation,” said Tom Schatz, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

“To protect the interests of taxpayers, the IRS’s authority must have appropriate guardrails. The Don’t Weaponize the IRS Act helps limit the agency’s ability to engage in politically motivated attacks against nonprofit organizations. National Taxpayers Union is proud to endorse this legislation,” said Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President, National Taxpayers Union