The Right's Next Target: AARP
by Charles Lemos, Fri Apr 08, 2011 at 06:13:54 PM EDT
Over the past year and half, we have seen the right demonize and go after groups like ACORN, the NAACP, National Public Radio, public-sector labor unions and in the current budget resolution debate Planned Parenthood. Now three GOP Congressmen have set their sights on another venerable institution, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
In a letter sent to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman Friday, Reps. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Charles Boustany (R-La.) say a recent congressional probe “gave rise to a number of serious concerns regarding AARP’s organizational structure and activities, and it raised questions about whether AARP continues to qualify as a tax-exempt organization under Internal Revenue Service Code (IRC) 501(c)4.”
A 40-page report recently released by the trio of lawmakers accuses AARP of refusing to provide information about its practices.
“In addition … the attached report raises concerns regarding various issues including the organization’s substantial revenues, limited charity work, and generous executive compensation,” they write. “The AARP Foundation has enjoyed increased taxpayer funding, including at least $18 million in ‘stimulus’ funding and a total of $314 million in federal grants from taxpayers between 2008 and 2010. At the same time, AARP, Inc.’s charitable contributions have flat-lined or in some cases decreased.”
In the letter, the lawmakers ask Shulman to investigate eight separate questions involving the legitimacy of AARP’s tax-exempt status. Federal tax law requires non-profits to meet a complex set of criteria to qualify for an exemption from taxes.
The attacks on the AARP are already prevalent on right-wing blogs such as Andrew Breitbart's Big Government and Erick Erickson's Red State. The AARP, of course, was one of the more vocal proponents of health care reform. That shouldn't be a surprise given that they are an advocacy group on behalf of constituency for whom affordable health care ranks as a top priority. But since the AARP took positions against the radicalism of the GOP, the right-wing playbook dictates that they must be destroyed.