Arianna Huffington got a much-needed education about 501(c)(4)s Sunday.
When she claimed during an ABC This Week discussion about the Internal Revenue Service scandal that Crossroads GPS shouldn't have qualified because "it was all about politics," former George W. Bush senior advisor Karl Rove struck back (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: The IRS is a big problem because it goes beyond the two Parties. It's really about the whole establishment of 501(c)(4)s and what are they about. You know, theoretically they're there to promote the social welfare, exclusively in one paragraph, primarily in another paragraph.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: You’re not supposed to do too much politics.
HUFFINGTON: You’re not supposed to do too much politics. I’m sure if we look at Crossroads GPS, it was all about politics.
KARL ROVE, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO GEORGE W. BUSH: No, no, please, please. GPS, Crossroads GPS, an organization I helped create, but I don’t run it. I'm not on the board. I'm not an officer. But the leadership knew right from the get go they were going to be looked at closely. So the laws and rules that the IRS has promulgated for decades were followed very closely by GPS for exactly that. They knew they’d get extra scrutiny. Look, I love this…
HUFFINGTON: No, no, I think it’s the same problem with the left.
ROVE: Well, but you know what? You're the first person I’ve heard on the left say that because these groups, 501(c)(4) groups, have been active for years on the Democratic side, on the liberal side, and there's been no criticism. There's no criticism from the left in 2000 when the NAACP voter fund spent $10 million to run an ad accusing George Bush of being a bigot. No concern on the left when Americans United for Change ran television ads targeting Republican senators up for re-election in 2007 and 2008 over the Iraq surge.
The reality is that for many years, left-wing Political Action Committees have been granted tax exempt status despite operating in a fashion that might disqualify them.
But nobody squawked.
Now with the revelations concerning the IRS's targeting of conservative groups, folks such as Huffington are pointing disqualifying fingers at Crossroads GPS and other right-wing PACs despite them doing exactly what tax exempt liberal groups have for years.
Fortunately for viewers, Rove was there to set the record straight.