State Senator Julianne Ortman held a press conference today to try and finger U.S. Senator Al Franken for playing a role in the current controversy over the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) giving unwarranted scrutiny to certain conservative 501(c)(4) groups.
In 2012, Franken and a group of other Democratic Senators sent two letters to the IRS, requesting that they give added scrutiny to 501(c)(4) groups. Both progressive and conservative organizations had been setting such groups up because they are tax-exempt and not subject to campaign finance disclosures.
You can see the letters at the links below:
In each, the Senators in question ask the IRS to scrutinize all 501(c)(4)s. Ideology doesn’t come up in either letter.
So, let’s sum up the argument here. Ortman is asking us to believe that the letters from 2012 which called for additional scrutiny to be applied to all 501(c)(4)s are significantly responsible for IRS misbehavior that began in 2010 and was actually uncovered and stopped after the letter was sent. Not even the reliable conservatives at Powerline are buying that one.
Why, then, would Ortman go to the trouble of calling a press conference to highlight this non-news with no real relation to her role as a State Senator? Oh, yeah:
Sources: Ortman meeting with GOP activists to discuss run for U.S. Senate against Franken. Tough race for Ortman…Franken has big $ lead.—
Michael Brodkorb (@mbrodkorb) May 01, 2013
When asked about such a thing, Ortman played the “who me?” card.
Ortman's name has been floated as a potential challenger to Franken next year. Declined to say if running. "It isn't about that."—
Megan Boldt (@meganboldt) May 16, 2013
Uh-huh. It’s totally not about that.
And let’s not forget that Ortman has never exactly been shy about sending letters of her own demanding action by other parts of government. Earlier this session, she asked Attorney General Lori Swanson to break from usual practice and preemptively give a ruling on whether legislation was constitutional or not. Last session, Ortman demanded that the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court investigate the handling of family cases in the First District.
So it seems that Ortman’s outrage over legislative letter-writing is rather subjective. Just remember, though, about those 2014 rumors: it’s totally not about that.