U.S. Sen. McConnell says he was wrong 25 years ago on tax exempt groups

05/19/2013 09:12 AM

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said Sunday on Meet the Press with David Gregory that he was wrong earlier in his career to be suspicious of not-for-profit groups with political operations like those targeted by the IRS.

And when asked whether or not there was any fact to back up claims that President Obama was leading a “culture of intimidation” especially in light of the IRS scandal, McConnell acknowleged that Congress and the public don’t have all the facts yet.

In a 1987 interview with CSPAN, McConnell seemed to believe that such groups that organized as tax-exempt nonprofits under section 501©(4) of the tax code —on the left and the right — should be subjected to tougher scrutiny.

“There are restrictions now on the kinds of activities that, for example, 501©(3) and (4) organizations, charitable organizations, can engage in that are being abused — not just people on the right, but most of the so-called charitable organizations who are involved in political activity in this country, who are, in my judgment, involved in arguable violations of their tax-free status and violations of the campaign laws, happen to be groups on the left, so that is a problem,” McConnell said in the 1987 interview.

On Sunday, McConnell said the situation was not clear when he made that statement in 1987 but it is now.

“I was wrong 25 years ago. I have been right for the past two decades,” McConnell said on Meet the Press. “The government should not be trying to intimidate citizens who criticize the government from exercising their first amendment right and that’s what is at the heart of this.”

McConnell also said the Benghazi investigations are a worthwhile step in getting to the bottom of what happened after the attack on the U.S. consulate in September of 2012. But he hinted that the investigations need to be completed before Republicans make comparisons to Watergate-type scandals.

Kentucky’s other U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has said the attacks in Benghazi should disqualify former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from holding higher office in 2016. When asked if he agrees, McConnell said that election is not a concern yet.

“Oh my goodness, the 2016 election is a long way away and we don’t even know who the candidates are going to be,” McConnell told Gregory. “Its way too early to be talking about the 2016 election in my opinion. We are in the middle of investigating a number of different parts of this administration, there is an obvious culture of intimidation and all of these issues are important to take a look at and we are going to do that.”

Paul, who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley on Sunday, said he stood by what he said about Clinton, which included remarks in Iowa last weekend . Paul said he has the biggest problem with evidence that suggests Clinton was warned that the U.S. delegation in Libya needed better security and failed to act in the six months leading up to the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

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Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.


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