By Sara Wyant
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WASHINGTON, April 22 - A letter sent by several members of Missouri’s congressional delegation to Eric Thorson, Inspector General for the Treasury Department, requests an investigation into what the lawmakers describe as “apparent improper activities” under the tax-exempt status of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS).
“Over the past two years, this organization has conducted substantial political activities within Missouri that brought into question its tax exempt 501 (c) (3) status,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter signed by Missouri Republican Reps. Vicky Hartzler, Jo Ann Emerson, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Sam Graves and Billy Long, along with Alaska GOP Rep. Don Young.
“We believe that HSUS’s own public documents show beyond question that lobbying is a “substantial part” of its activities and feel that IRS’s failure to act is attributable to the politically sensitive nature of HSUS’s activities,” they wrote. Under the definition of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code, an organization “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities.”
On March 23, 2010, Rep. Luetkemeyer notified IRS Commissioner Shulman of the organization’s potential violation of the tax exemption laws. On May 12, Luetkemeyer followed up with a letter to Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations. “Yet to our knowledge, no remedial action was taken against HSUS,” the lawmakers wrote.
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