I interviewed Miller in 2002 for a book I wrote about the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, because I was interested in the tax-exempt status of some of the charities accused of misusing money donated to help 9/11 victims. I recall Miller saying that he was not accustomed to talking to the press, which was obvious by how uncomfortable he seemed. I also recall him making no bones about his office’s power to revoke various IRS tax-exempt designations.
A Google search turns up some references to speeches Miller has given to audiences of tax professionals or lawyers, as well as rulings he has authored, but it doesn’t show any articles focusing on him, let alone on Grant, the person with presumably direct authority over 501(c)(4) status decisions.
So who are Miller and Grant? Has anyone complained to them about Crossroads GPS or any other super PAC-associated 501(c)(4)’s? Do they need a formal complaint to investigate? How quickly could they act if it’s clear to them that these are not really “social welfare organizations”? Can they conduct audits before the groups’ annual tax returns are due?
Would an appeal to the courts of any IRS decision to revoke 501(c)(4) status and order donor disclosure under FEC rules guarantee the same delay that Bauer claims Rove’s group is playing for at the FEC? Or could the government get a quick injunction ordering the disclosure, on the grounds that it is highly likely to win its case and that a delay of disclosure beyond the election would cause irreparable harm (the usual standard for getting such injunctions)?
What are the likely political implications of Miller and his staff acting, or not acting? The post-Nixon-era IRS has had a clean reputation for not politicizing its work. Could Miller and Grant act one way or the other without interference from Obama political appointees, and would the public accept that they are doing so purely on the merits? Or are people like Rove counting on exactly that kind of backlash?
With that in mind, what are Miller’s and Grant’s political backgrounds and leanings, if any? (When I met Miller he was working in the George W. Bush administration.)
This is anything but a tangential story. A report last week on the OpenSecrets.org website of the Center for Responsive Politics found that in the 2010 election cycle these groups raised more than $100 million for this kind of activity - and that was two years before the current and obviously more critical and expensive election cycle. (Publicly available tax records for these groups are typically a year or two old and must be searched manually.) It’s entirely possible that these groups will actually outspend the super PACS in many of the 2012 contests, with all the money coming from unknown sources.
2. What’s wrong with DC baseball fans?
The Washington Nationals are leading the tough National League East, and with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper they boast two of the most exciting young players in baseball. So how come their attendance in a good-sized market is so relatively meager? They’re averaging just 29,482 fans per game, which is 14th out of 30 Major League teams. In fact, fans across the country seem more interested in the Nationals than the folks at home: The team’s attendance averages 33,463 on the road.
So what’s the matter with DC baseball fans or with their team’s promotional efforts?