Meet the Press   |  May 19, 2013

McConnell: ‘Culture of intimidation’ throughout administration

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky cites examples of what he sees as political maneuvering by the Obama administration.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> senator mitch mcconnell of kentucky. welcome back.

>> good morning.

>> why don't you accept the word from not only white house officials but from former acting commercialer said there is not evidence of a political agenda ?

>> actually, there is a culture of intimidation throughout the administration. the irs is just the most recent example. let me recount a few for your audience. over at hhs in the obama care debate, the secretary sent out a directive saying they couldn't say what the policy would be. now they're trying to convince the public they should love obama care. at the fcc efforts by obama appointees to shut down or make difficult people who are seeking to buy advertising to criticize the administration. over at the sec the obama appointees have been engaged in an effort to make it difficult for corporations to exercise their first amendment political rights . the irs coming back to the irs , the head of the union at the irs gives 99% of her campaign money to democrats. she openly criticizes the republican house for trying to reduce government spending and has specifically targeted tea party groups in her public comments. it's no wonder that the agents in the irs sort of get the message the president demonizes his opponent, the head of their union --

>> senator, that's a leap can you make as argument but you don't have fact to back it up. you can create -- i asked dan pfeiffer about it. can you talk about a culture. do you have any evidence that the president of the united states directed what you call a culture of intimidation at the irs to target political opponents?

>> i don't think we know what the facts are.

>> that hasn't stopped you from accusing.

>> we're talking about an attitude the government knows best, the nanny state is here to tell us what to do and if you start criticizing, you get targeted.

>> let me stop you for a minute.

>> david, let me finish. david, let me finish. the investigation has just begun. i'm not going to reach a conclusion about what we may find, but what we do know happened is they were targeting tea party groups. we know that.

>> we do know that. the question is how it initiated, who initiated it and how high that goes.

>> sure. that's why you have investigations.

>> right. it interesting. the larger issue here, as some have point issed out, is the exist of the 501 c 4 groups. they are involved in politics but they're also involved in some kind of social good. i guess that's in the eye of the beholder . you were asked about this issue way back in 1987 . i want to play for you what you said then and ask you if it's resonant today.

>> there are restrictions now on the kinds of activities that, for example, a 501-c3 and 4 organizations can engage in. they're being abused not just by 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.

>> so that was a problem then and some are arguing it a problem now as well. out of all of this do you see more tax reform that addresses whether any of these groups should be tax exempt ?

>> it's not whether you have to go back 25 years to find a quote. what we have seen here is an effort on the part of the government to make it difficult for citizens to get organized and to express themselves. there's an effort here also to make sure that you can get their donor list or their membership list. it's reminiscent of naacp versus alabama back in 1958 where the state of alabama tried to get the membership and donor list of the naacp. the supreme court said under the first amendment freedom of association you can't have it. there's an of the here in congress called a disclose act to try to get at the donors of these groups. i was wrong 25 years ago, i've been right for the last two decades. the government should not be trying to intimidate citizens who criticize the government from exercising their first amendment rights. and that's what is at the heart of this and that's what the irs apparently was doing by making it difficult for citizens to get a legitimate tax exempt status .

>> i'm saying should these groups if they're that politically involved, and that's what you identified 25 years ago, if they're that politically involved, they shouldn't have tax exempt status . should the tax code be simpler in this arena to eliminate these questions?

>> no. i think the citizens groups have a right to organize, express themselves and not have their donor list subject to political supervision. it clear now that the reason these donor lists and donors are trying to be revealed is so the federal government can target them and shut them