September 12, 2018

Van Hollen Statement on Charles Rettig

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen released the following statement in opposition to the confirmation of Charles Rettig to become Commissioner of Internal Revenue. 

I opposed the confirmation of Charles Rettig to become the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, because I am concerned about the flow of secret money in our elections. Mr. Rettig refused to give a clear answer on whether the IRS would take steps to address this problem under his leadership, which is especially concerning in light of recent actions by the Trump Administration that make the situation even worse than it was before.
In response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, I introduced the DISCLOSE Act, which passed the House of Representatives, to ensure that the identities of donors to political campaign would be disclosed. Unfortunately, it failed to pass the Senate. In 2013, after many secret money groups established themselves as 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, I filed a suit against the IRS to compel them to ensure that the primary purpose of these organizations was in fact for social welfare as opposed to politics. The IRS indicated that it would address this issue and, as a result, we withdrew the complaint.

Unfortunately, the IRS never followed through on its commitment. Instead, under President Trump, the IRS eliminated the requirement for 501(c)(4) groups to report their donors to the IRS. These reports to the IRS were not public, but at least they provided some level of protection for the IRS to stop illegal political spending, including by foreign governments and interests. Today, some of these 501(c)(4) organizations finance huge political operations on behalf donors that seek to remain anonymous.

Furthermore, I was among the 10 Senators who sent a letter to Mr. Rettig asking for his assurance that the IRS would treat all states fairly after the new tax law sharply curtailed the federal tax deduction for state and local taxes. We were concerned about politically motivated changes to longstanding IRS rules governing the treatment of state tax credits for charitable contributions. Mr. Rettig failed to even respond to our letter, raising serious concerns about how the IRS will respond to oversight from Congress and concerns from the public under Mr. Rettig’s leadership.