49° Good Morning
49° Good Morning

Up on the Board: IRS and political spending, safer clothing factories

Reshma, a seamstress, was buried alive and spent

Reshma, a seamstress, was buried alive and spent 17 days in pitch blackness after the clothing factory fire in Bangladesh that killed an estimated 1,100 people.

As President Barack Obama fires Steven T. Miller as the head of the IRS, the editorial board believes that the agency must continue to clean house. IRS agents searched for “tea party” and “patriot” in the names of organizations to target audits. The agency wanted to determine if their tax exempt, nonprofit status was authentic – or if they were in fact supporting political campaigns. Accusations are surfacing that IRS agents also scrutinized groups with “Israel” in the name, for the same purpose.

Board member Alvin Bessent notes that distinguishing between nonprofit and political organizations didn’t seem to be as difficult prior to the 2010 Supreme Court decision “Citizens United.” Previously, only a limited number of nonprofit groups could spend to influence elections, and they couldn’t take contributions from corporations or unions. Now, those doors have swung open, and there’s no requirement to disclose donors.

“If you force the IRS, a bureaucracy, to make fine distinctions in a political arena, it’s going to be a circus,” Bessent said.

At this point, we’re planning to write about safer clothing factories for Sunday. It’s very difficult to know when countries such as Bangladesh have adequate worker safety laws and are enforcing them.

And we’re planning to look at school spending and the quality of school board members on Monday, as voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide school budgets.

If you have an opinion on any of the above, simply fill in a comment in the section below, or email


Up on the Board is the editorial board's blog about what we just discussed at our weekday morning meeting. These meetings are where we talk about the news of the day and hash out our positions for the opinion sections of Newsday, Newsday Westchester and amNew York.