Thursday, May 16, 2013

  • "The Other IRS Scandal": David Cay Johnston on Dark Money Political Groups Seeking Tax Exemption


    The acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Steven Miller, has been forced to resign days after the IRS apologized to tea party and other right-wing groups for putting extra scrutiny on their bids to become tax-exempt organizations. While the IRS targeting of tea party groups has made headlines for days, far less attention has been paid to the roots of the crisis. After the 2010 landmark Supreme Court decision Citizens United, there was a spike in new political organizations seeking tax-exempt status under tax code Section 501(c)(4). The court ruled these groups could raise unlimited corporate money without disclosing donor information. Several groups have claimed to be social welfare organizations while spending tens of millions of dollars on political operations. We speak to David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who writes about taxes issues. "One of the questions that needs to be examined in the real scandal here is: How did MoveOn, how did Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, how did Bill Burton’s progressive Democratic group get approved as exclusively social welfare organizations?" Johnston says. "There are a bunch of folks out there arguing that, well, 'primarily,' that phrase that pops up in IRS regulations, can mean 49.9 percent of your activity. I’m sorry, is there an adult in America who’s been in a romantic relationship who thinks that 'exclusively' is 49 percent of the time?"

  • AP Monitoring Raises Fears of Government Overreach: How Far Will Obama Go to Crack Down on Leaks?


    David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and president of Investigative Reporters and Editors, joins us to discuss the growing scandal over the Justice Department’s seizure of telephone records from Associated Press editors and reporters. The action came as part of a probe into the leaks behind an AP story about how U.S. intelligence thwarted a Yemen-based al-Qaeda bombing plot on a U.S.-bound airplane. "This is a very troubling aspect of this administration — it is hostile to the news media," Johnston says. "They’re behaving much more like a corporation than like the people’s government."

  • Debate: What Caused Cooper Union’s Fiscal Woes and Is Ending Free Tuition the Answer?


    Students and administrators at New York City’s Cooper Union are clashing over the future of one of the last private universities in the United States to offer free tuition. Activists are occupying the president’s office for a ninth day after the school said fiscal problems would force an end to more than a century of free tuition for undergraduates. We host a debate with three guests: Mark Epstein, the chairman of the board of trustees for Cooper Union; Victoria Sobel, a Cooper Union student organizer who is among the activists who have occupied the president’s office for over a week; and Reuters finance blogger Felix Salmon.