Congressman Bob Gibbs

Representing the 7th District of Ohio

July 17th, 2014

July 17, 2014
Columns

As a country, we believe in the freedom of speech and your ability to responsibly express your own opinions and ideas without government control.  Somewhere down the line, the IRS missed the memo that targeting groups based on their beliefs is a violation of the First Amendment and is unconstitutional. The IRS  has become the Administration’s vehicle to enforce its healthcare law and regulate free speech based on political beliefs.

Over the past two years, Congress has uncovered more evidence into the IRS’s targeting of 501(c)(4) organizations, specifically conservative organizations. The House Republicans, led by the Oversight and Government Reform and Ways and Means Committees, have uncovered a clear record of the IRS harassing Americans because of their political beliefs. The House has passed numerous bills to ensure these destructive practices exercised by the IRS will not occur again.

This week, the House passed the Financial Services Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5016), which provides a total of $23.3 billion in discretionary funding-- $566 million below last year’s enacted level. The bill eliminates funding for over nine programs totaling at $39.9 million and reduces funding for multiple bureaucratic and wasteful agencies.

This bill protects the First Amendment by prohibiting the IRS from using any funds to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights.  Due to the IRS targeting certain private sector entities in an attempt to limit their Constitutional right to freedom of speech, H.R. 5016  prevents the IRS from implementing new 501(c)(4) regulations.  

Just a few months ago, it was revealed that Lois Lerner and other IRS officials’ hard drives were conveniently destroyed after House Committees asked to use them for the investigation. This bill prevents any funding from being used to destroy records, regardless of their form or characteristics in convention with the Federal Records Act. The American people deserve peace of mind knowing that as a taxpayer, their identity and personal information is safe. H.R. 5016 protects the taxpayer by requiring the IRS to institute and enforce polices that protect the confidentiality of your information and safeguard them from identity theft.

The IRS continues to overstep its legitimate authority by targeting individuals and groups it does not like and this unconstitutional practice must be stopped. Under Lois Lerner’s leadership, the IRS believes they can target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights and it is wrong.

I along with my colleagues in the House will continue to work to find justice. The Administration thinks their political agenda has no bounds, and when it affects Americans most basic rights, we must take action. I would like to hear your opinions on the IRS. Please call my office at 202-225-6265 or email me at repbob.gibbs@mail.house.gov.

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