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Wolves in do-gooder clothing

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If you're covered in political stink, it might be prudent to avoid yelling "dirty politics" at others.

Lately, a mess of right-wing tea party groups have been wailing nonstop that they have been targeted and harassed by Obamanistic, IRS thugs. The groups certainly are right that it's abhorrent for a powerful agency to run a repressive witch hunt against any group of citizens just because of their political views. Liberals have certainly felt the lash of such official repression by assorted McCarthyite-Nixonite-Cheneyite forces over the years, and it must be condemned, no matter who the victims.

In this case, however, the right-wing groups were not targeted by government snoops and political operatives, but tagged by their own applications to be designated by the IRS as 501(c)(4) "social welfare" groups. This privileged status would allow them to take unlimited bags of corporate cash without ever revealing to voters the names of the corporations putting up the money.

The caveat is that 501(c)(4)s are supposed to do social welfare work and cannot be attached to any candidate or party, nor can politics be their primary purpose.

Forget what the rule says, though. Such renown political players as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have cynically set up their own pretend welfare groups, openly using them as fronts to run secret-money election campaigns.

Suddenly, hundreds of wannabes were demanding the special (c)(4) designation, brazenly lying about their overt political purpose. Some even asserted that they were engaged in no political activity, when their own websites bragged that they were.

It was the groups' stupidity and audacity that prompted the IRS inquiries, and their current hissy-fit about the agency is really just a PR effort to let them continue their "social welfare" fraud.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.

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