Reminiscent of the Obama Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) witch hunt of conservative groups, a U.S. Senator who sits on the committee that oversees the tax agency is pushing it to revoke a student charity’s nonprofit status. The veteran lawmaker, Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, says the conservative student organization, Turning Point USA, should lose its nonprofit rating because it held large events that could help spread COVID-19. In a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig the senator describes the gatherings as “superspreader” events. He specifically mentions a Palm Beach, Florida winter gala at the Mar-a-Lago Club famously owned by former President Donald Trump.
“According to press reports and social media posts, many participants gathered and mingled indoors without wearing masks, in violation of Palm Beach County’s COVID-19 regulations,” Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, writes to the IRS chief. The powerful chamber has oversight over the IRS, among many other government agencies. “In holding these ‘superspreader’ events, Turning Point USA knowingly exposed hundreds of young people and staff working at the events to serious risk of infection,” the letter continues. The legislator asks the IRS to review whether the group, which has more than 250,000 student members, should continue to enjoy its tax-exempt nonprofit status. “Established law has long held that an organization is not eligible for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) if a purpose of the organization is contrary to public policy or is illegal,” the letter states, reminding the IRS commissioner of a three-part test established to determine whether an organization’s activities are consistent with tax exemption under the code.