Tea Party leader: Distributing Romney literature “not a political activity”

Social welfare

Social welfare

Last week, we discussed the IRS/Tea Party scandal and the problem of distinguishing social welfare organizations from political groups. Noted parser of fine distinctions Ben al-Fowlkes sent me this follow-up article from the New York Times, in which intrepid reporters who are probably interns researched some of the complainant groups. It’s an interesting read throughout, but it reaches a boiling point of surreality with the last two paragraphs. Quote:

…[T]he Ohio Liberty Coalition, another Tea Party group that has complained about the scrutiny it received from the I.R.S.,… canvassed neighborhoods, handing out Romney campaign “door hangers,” Mr. Zawistowski said. The I.R.S. usually considers such activities to be partisan. But when Mr. Zawistowski consulted his group’s lawyers, he said, he came away understanding that the I.R.S. was most concerned with radio or television advertising. He said he believed that other activities, like distributing literature for the Romney campaign, would not raise concerns. “It’s not political activity,” he said.

At least one of the groups that applied for 501(c)(4) status in the last few years claims that going door-to-door on behalf of a candidate for president is not a political activity. How does one deal with/in such mendacity?

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