03 Aug 2010 National Center for Public Policy Research Launches ‘Most Ethically-Challenged Watchdog Groups’ List
Washington, DC – The National Center for Public Policy Research has today launched a tongue-in-cheek ‘Most Ethically-Challenged Watchdog Groups’ list.
CREW not only tops our list, it is our list.
The National Center’s list is in response to a “CREW’s Crooked Candidates 2010” list published by the self-styled ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
“Here’s the thing,” said National Center for Public Policy Research Vice President David Ridenour. “CREW is a tax-exempt foundation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. IRS regulations prohibit it from endorsing or rating candidates, even on a ‘non-partisan’ basis. How could publicly listing what CREW calls some of ‘2010’s most crooked candidates’ not be rating candidates?”
“Furthermore,” added Ridenour, “the list doesn’t even appear to be non-partisan. Of the 12 candidates rated ‘crooked’ by CREW, eight are Republicans, one is an independent who has been associated with the GOP for most of his career, and only three are Democrats, two of whom are running against Republicans CREW also listed.”
“Raising a further question of whether CREW’s ‘crooked candidates’ rating project was set up to hurt specific candidates and a specific political party is the fact that of the three Democrats rated, none is considered to have even a remote chance of being elected. So no harm done, really, to the Democrats. But of the Republicans, at least five of the eight are locked in very tight races. Three are threatening to take over Democrat seats. The sole independent is also locked in a very tight race.”
David Ridenour added, “CREW also declined to include incumbents on its list of supposedly ‘crooked candidates,’ all of whom appear to be running for federal office. As incumbents are disproportionately from one of the political parties, this action alone could be considered partisan.”
“And finally,” Ridenour said, “lest there be any doubt that this is about partisan politics, the slogan on CREW’s webpage is ‘continuing the culture of corruption.’ Of this phrase, Wikipedia says, ‘Culture of corruption was a political slogan used by the U.S. Democratic Party…'”
“The Internal Revenue Service has said, ‘… in order to violate the political campaign prohibition, an advocacy communication [by a 501(c)(3) organization] should contain some relatively clear directive that enables the recipient to know the organization’s position on a specific candidate or slate of candidates,'” said Amy Ridenour, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research. “When I read CREW’s ‘Crooked Candidates 2010’ webpage, I believed I had a pretty clear indication of what CREW’s position is on these candidates.”
“The rules on intervention in a political campaign are strict,” added Amy Ridenour. “We would not even consider rating candidates as ‘crooked’ or ‘wonderful,’ or even ‘grey-haired’.”
A 2002 IRS publication, “Election Year Issues” by senior IRS officials John Reilly and Judith Kindell provides further information on IRS electioneering regulations:
The regulations provide that activities that constitute participation or intervention in a political campaign include, but are not limited to, the publication or distribution of written or printed statements or the making of oral statements on behalf of or in opposition to a candidate for public office. Reg. 1.501(c)(3)-1(c)(3)(iii). See also Reg. 53.4945-3(a)(2). Consequently, a written or oral endorsement of a candidate is strictly forbidden. The rating of candidates, even on a non-partisan basis, also is prohibited. See Association of the Bar of the City of New York v. Commissioner, 858 F.2d 876 (2d Cir. 1988), cert. denied, 490 U.S. 1030 (1989)… As is stated in TAM 1999-07-021 (May 20, 1998), in order to violate the political campaign prohibition, an advocacy communication ‘should contain some relatively clear directive that enables the recipient to know the organization’s position on a specific candidate or slate of candidates.’
The National Center for Public Policy Research, established in 1982, is a non-partisan, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) think-tank with over 100,000 recent donors.