Sen. Roberts: IRS Actions Set ‘To Keep Conservative Groups on the Sidelines’ This Election Year

By Ali Meyer | April 10, 2014 | 4:34 PM EDT

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) (AP)

( -- IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s comments make it clear that the  “IRS’s actions are designed to control the battle space of the election this coming fall to keep conservative groups on the sidelines,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) at an Americans For Tax Reform Tax Day press conference on Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.

“This is an attack – that’s just the way we have to put it,” Roberts said.  “It’s an attack on the First Amendment rights of our citizens just because they dare to differ from this administration and the president. I can’t think of anything more reprehensible and certainly I’m not going to stand idly by when the administration tries to dodge and weave its way out of this.”

The senator went on to explain how he had questioned the IRS commissioner at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday, Apr. 8, about whether he would stop regulations that limit the “advocacy and educational activities of tax-exempt groups.”  Roberts said Koskinen’s responses were “crafty,” and that the commissioner replied in “verbal somersaults.”

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen (AP File Photo)

“At any rate, [Koskinen] dodged, he ducked, he told us many times not to worry; the regulations won’t be finalized until after the election,” said Roberts.  “Whoops, until after the election. If that doesn’t put a quote around it and several underlines and about 22-point bold, in terms of the statement with regards to this being political, I don’t know what will.”

“I’m not sure that’s what he wanted to say, because by telling me not to worry --  ‘the regs won’t be done until after the election in November’ -- he made it even clearer that the IRS’s actions are designed to control the battle space of the election this coming fall to keep conservative groups on the sidelines,” the senator said. “I expect him to keep ducking and dodging.”

Earlier this week, reported that Koskinen said the chances of a regulation limiting the advocacy and educational activities of tax-exempt groups being finished before the end of the year were “slim if not non-existent.”

(AP Photo)

“I think that, unless the [IRS-Tea Party] investigations are going to go on into next year, somebody will issue at least one (report), and hopefully this committee, perhaps others, will issue their report sometime in the next three or four months, which will be well in advance of any time that we would have a chance of completing this regulation,” Koskinen said.

Senator Roberts made his remarks at a 2014 Tax Day Press Conference sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform at the U.S. Capitol.

Other lawmakers spoke at the event, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Among the topics discussed at the event were IRS abuse of conservative non-profit groups, IRS implementation of Obamacare, and IRS waste of taxpayer funds.