Questions Emerge Over HSUS and the IRS Scandal

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The ongoing IRS scandal that is hitting Washington has yet another twist with new questions surrounding the number one group on our Dirty Dozen List, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  The latest twist comes after the person at the heart of the IRS scandal, Lois Lerner, was found to have ties to this anti-hunting organization.

Lerner is the Director of the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations division, which has come under investigation for improperly targeting conservative groups.  Lerner’s involvement might not stop there, however.  Now questions are being raised as to whether the IRS ignored accusations regarding HSUS’s tax exempt status because of Lerner’s active membership with HSUS.

Serious concerns surrounding HSUS’s tax exempt status originally surfaced in 2011, with six members of Congress requesting the IRS take a closer look at the anti-hunting group.  Now, Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer, a Missouri Republican, is calling into question HSUS’s tax exempt status because of substantial political activity conducted by HSUS in Missouri in recent years.

HSUS is listed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, meaning that they are limited in the amount of political lobbying that is permissible under the Internal Revenue Code.  In 2010 alone, according to IRS filings, HSUS raised $148,703,820 in revenue.  They have been accused of sending less than one percent of those earnings on animal shelters, an accusation that was not denied by HSUS President and CEO, Wayne Pacelle.  So what is the rest of HSUS’s income being spent on?

That is the question that is coming under renewed scrutiny.  It’s also why Luetkemeyer wrote a letter both to the IRS Inspector General and Lerner asking for an investigation to determine if HSUS had engaged in excessive lobbying in violation of IRS rules for 501(c)(3) organizations.  However, it appears that no such investigation ever took place, thus calling into question whether Lerner ignored these accusations because of her ties to HSUS.

This probably is not the last turn in this already wildly winding road of inquiry with the IRS.

Photo courtesy of www.washingtonpost.com