Politics

FreedomWorks freaks out at Cornyn in post-IRS scandal panic

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The conservative-libertarian activism organization FreedomWorks pushed back against a hiring announcement by the John Cornyn Senate campaign Tuesday because it suggested that FreedomWorks had violated its nonprofit status.

The 2014 re-election campaign of Republican Sen. Cornyn announced Tuesday the hiring of new campaign operative Brendan Steinhauser, writing that Steinhauser, a former employee of the pro-tea party FreedomWorks, “led the group’s effort to elect [Sen.] Ted Cruz in 2012.”

FreedomWorks quickly snapped back.

“They issued a statement, and the statement claimed that he led the group’s effort to elect Ted Cruz to the Senate in 2012, and led grassroots efforts to help elect Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey in 2010,” FreedomWorks spokeswoman Jacqueline Bodnar told The Daily Caller. “So we were obligated to make the clarification that the actions of our super PAC are separate from our 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) organization.”

Bodnar explained that Steinhauser was an employee of the non-profit, 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) establishment at FreedomWorks, but was working on super PAC activities within the guidelines set by law.

“He could do super PAC activities up to a threshold,” Bodnar said, noting that Steinhauser was not involved in making strategic Super PAC decisions.

“Steinhauser did not lead our efforts to elect Ted Cruz,” FreedomWorks said in a statement. “As a FreedomWorks employee, Steinhauser was not in charge of our political efforts in 2010 or 2012. FreedomWorks is a 501 (c3) and a 501 (c4), engaging in education and issue advocacy. All political ‘Get out the Vote’ activity is conducted exclusively through our super PAC, FreedomWorks for America.”

The growing IRS scandal, which centers on the federal government harassing conservative nonprofit groups, motivated FreedomWorks’ quick response to Cornyn’s hastily-worded announcement.

“That’s certainly part of it,” Bodnar told TheDC. “There is scrutiny of these types of things.”

FreedomWorks has had no contact with Cornyn’s campaign since making the statement, but Bodnar said “it would be nice” if the Cornyn campaign retracted its email. Cornyn is currently facing tea party primary challenger Erick Wyatt in Texas.

As The Daily Caller reported, conservative and tea party groups are now having trouble fielding donations because people are afraid to be affiliated with groups that might be targeted by the IRS.

The Cornyn campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.

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