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February 24, 2014

Citizens United Aims to Sue IRS Over Nonprofit Politicking Rules

Citizens United, the conservative advocacy group that has become synonymous with unrestricted political spending, says it will take the Internal Revenue Service to court if the agency implements planned restrictions on electioneering by 501(c)(4) groups, The Center for Public Integrity reports.

"I can commit with certitude that Citizens United will not sit by while any government agency tries to violate our First Amendment rights," David Bossie, the group's president, said Friday. His comments came a day after Citizens United submitted formal comments to the IRS opposing the proposed regulations, which more specifically define impermissible political activity by "social welfare" nonprofits.

Citizens United's suit against the Federal Election Commission produced the 2010 Supreme Court decision lifting limits on political spending by corporations and unions. Since that ruling, "dark money" groups—501(c)(4) nonprofits that are not required to identify donors—have become major conduits for campaign cash, prompting the IRS proposal.

Republican leaders and some liberal advocacy organizations have criticized the new rule as a brake on free speech and a too-broad crackdown on nonprofits' political engagement.