Politics: February 2014 Archives

New York political blogger Rusty Weiss has an item about Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik's announcement that he has quit Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Tkazyik stated his reason:

It did not take long to realize that MAIG's agenda was much more than ridding felons of illegal guns; that under the guise of helping mayors facing a crime and drug epidemic, MAIG intended to promote confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens. I don't believe, never have believed and never will believe that public safety is enhanced by encroaching on our right to bear arms, and I will not be a part of any organization that does.

As Mayor of Tulsa, Kathy Taylor was a charter member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a signatory to the group's initial statement of principles. She participated in the initial summit of 15 mayors in New York, a Midwest MAIG summit in Milwaukee, and joined other MAIG members in Washington to urge Congress to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment. During her 2013 campaign to regain the mayor's office, she minimized the significance of her participation in the group.

While supporters of 2nd Amendment rights will welcome Mayor Tkazyik to the club, we may wonder why it took him so long to get here. I am unable to find his name or his city's name on MAIG rosters prior to 2009. He shows up as a MAIG member in this NRA-ILA list from 2010. But by 2009, a dozen mayors had quit MAIG, several explicitly denouncing the group as "attempting to erode all gun ownership, not just illegal guns." He also signed this MAIG letter from 2012 following the Sandy Hook attack.

I've noticed that when a politician resigns from or denounces politically inconvenient organizations, it's often right before a run for a higher office.

RELATED: Someone linked to this on Facebook. An engineer has been pondering the problem -- How do you keep a handgun out of the reach of children, but readily available when needed for home defense? -- and has developed a product that seems to meet the need, called The Gun Box:

The video is a little out of date: The FAQ page on the website says that the project is fully-funded and they are in full-scale production. The Gun Box sells for $279 and initial delivery is slated for March 2014.

Patrick Hruby, writing in Politico Magazine, calls the NFL the "National Freeloader League," in an open letter to the infatuated congressmen who let the NFL make billions and still claim non-profit status:

So: Your relationship with the National Football League. It's toxic. Not for you, of course. You seem happy, like a bunch of starstruck fans. And we understand--we're fans, too. Professional football is fun, and no doubt a far better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than rushing around to grovel for cash at half a dozen fundraisers. The league throws a terrific Super Bowl party, too, and given the choice, who wouldn't prefer Denver-Seattle and a tub of guacamole over voting to repeal Obamacare for the 5,000th time?

But we digress. Back to the toxic part. While you're enjoying the epic Richard Sherman vs. Peyton Manning matchup this weekend, the NFL is pulling a fast one on us. Dodging taxes. Pocketing government handouts. Passing the buck on workplace injuries. Mooching harder than one of Ronald Reagan's welfare queens. Adding insult to injury--come to think it of it, it's probably the other way around--the league also is peddling a potentially dangerous product to our children with almost no oversight.

The mention of "starstruck fans" reminds me of the normally fiscally sober Oklahoma Republican legislators who fell all over themselves to include professional basketball teams in Oklahoma's "Quality Jobs Act," so that the new NBA owners could claim a tax credit.

How does an organization with $9 billion in revenue manage to claim non-profit status?

Your predecessors modified the law to specifically exempt "business leagues, chambers of commerce, real-estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues." (Somewhere in heaven, an NFL lobbyist just got his wings.) As Senator Coburn has repeatedly noted, the letter of the reworded 501(c)6 law violates its spirit. Lumping pro football in with boards of trade makes no sense. "It's a ruse," he says of the filing status that also applies to the PGA Tour and the National Hockey League. "Compare the NFL to other trade associations. They don't qualify at all. They're not promoting a trade. They're promoting themselves."

There's more, and you'll want to read the whole thing.

Last September, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn introduced legislation to strip the tax-exempt status from professional sports organizations with annual revenues greater than $10 million:

Today, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) introduced the PRO Sports Act, S.1524, which would amend the tax code to prohibit professional sports organizations with annual revenues over $10 million from enjoying the same tax-exempt, 501(c)(6) status as industry trade associations and public interest groups.

"Tax earmarks are essentially tax increases for everyone who doesn't receive the benefit. In this case, working Americans are paying artificially high rates in order to subsidize special breaks for sports leagues. This is hardly fair," Dr. Coburn said. "This bill would require major professional sports leagues to be prohibited from qualifying as non-profit organizations under the tax code. This would help give all Americans, not just athletes and owners, a break and pave the way for the kind of tax reform and job creation our economy desperately needs."

Currently, a number of professional sports leagues have central offices registered as 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organizations allowing for the opportunity for their revenue to be tax-free. Leagues qualify for the tax-exempt status by stating their purpose is to help promote their respective sports and membership instead of themselves. The PRO Sports Act will not impact leagues' 501(C)(3) charitable organizations.

A backgrounder on the bill points out that other "public interest groups" have been stripped of 501(c)(6) status because they exist mainly to secure benefits for their members rather than serve the general public interest. AAA is one such example listed in the piece.

At this point, Coburn's bill has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, and no further action has been taken. No wonder he's discouraged and ready to pack it in.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Politics category from February 2014.

Politics: October 2013 is the previous archive.

Politics: August 2014 is the next archive.

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