Concord – The New Hampshire Republican State Committee demanded that Senator Jeanne Shaheen explain her 2012 letter to the IRS commissioner calling for increased investigations of social welfare organizations (full letter here). The IRS is engulfed in a major scandal after reports surfaced that the agency was inappropriately targeting conservative social welfare organizations that opposed President Obama’s big government agenda. 

“Senator Shaheen’s 2012 letter to the IRS commissioner raises concerns that must be addressed immediately. Shaheen and her Democrat colleagues have consistently attacked conservative organizations, but said nothing about the liberal ‘social welfare’ groups that have supported their campaigns. There are very serious questions about whether Shaheen’s partisan effort to pressure the IRS to increase investigations of 501(c)(4) organizations contributed to the outrageous practices that took place at the agency,” said NHGOP Executive Director Matthew Slater.

In a letter sent to former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman on February 16, 2012, Shaheen requested investigations of 501(c)(4) organizations. The letter was co-signed by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Merkely (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM).

“We write to inquire if the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) is investigating or intends to investigate whether groups designated as “social welfare” organizations, and thus receiving tax and other advantages under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(4), are improperly engaged in a substantial or even a predominant amount of campaign activity,” the letter read. 

The Washington Examiner (5/13/13) reports that the letter was announced in a February 16 news release distributed by Senator Bennet’s office. The letter specifically singled out organizations lead by conservatives as examples of groups that the IRS should investigate.

“[L]ong-time partisan operative Karl Rove is a senior official behind a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” charity, yet it’s common knowledge that his organization exists to elect and defeat specific political candidates,” the news release read. “Elections operations such as Mr. Rove’s should not be allowed to masquerade as charities to take advantage of their tax exempt status and hide their donors from the public.”

In 2010 Shaheen’s colleague, Democrat Senator Max Baucus also urged the IRS to specifically investigate conservative organizations (Politico, 9/29/10). 

Shaheen has been a consistent critic of conservative 501(c)(4) organizations, yet she has failed to criticize liberal ‘social welfare’ groups like MoveOn.org that have supported her campaigns. According to Opensecrets.org, Shaheen has accepted $81,524 in campaign donations from MoveOn.org’s political arm.