Docs: House Democratic Leadership Pressured SEC to Scrutinize Donations to Tax-Exempt Groups

July 22, 2013

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) today released a memo to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing how intense political pressure led the Commission to override the objective advice and recommendations of the SEC’s professional staff. Documents show special interest groups and House Democratic leadership tried to pressure the SEC to scrutinize political spending by the same types of outside groups that were being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over objections from professional staff

The memo notes that “On January 15, 2013, a draft document prepared via a senior staff member’s personal, non-official email account detailed new attention and emphasis on groups organized under Section 501 and 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, the same types of groups that House Democratic leadership and special interest groups were concerned about and the same types of groups that were being targeted by the IRS.”

In a cover letter to the SEC from Chairman Issa, Oversight Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan and Mr. Patrick McHenry, the Oversight Committee members state:

“Documents produced to the Committee indicate that the SEC has been under immense pressure from elected officials and special interest groups as part of a government-wide effort to stifle political speech. This effort to politicize the agency appears to have been successful in overcoming the objections of the SEC’s professional staff, and moving the Commission closer to using its authority to regulate public securities markets as a backdoor way to limit the political speech of the same types of groups targeted by the IRS.”

Read the letter here.

See the memo here.

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