The Alabama House on Thursday awarded its approval to the “Alabama Taxpayer Audit Protection Act,” a measure sponsored by State Rep. Wayne Johnson (R – Ryland) and designed to prevent revenue officials within the state from targeting politically active groups and individuals in a manner similar to Barack Obama and the Internal Revenue Service.
The bill is included in the House Republican Caucus’ “Commonsense Conservative Agenda” that was announced prior to the start of the 2014 regular session.
“It’s no secret that Barack Obama and his Internal Revenue Service have targeted TEA Party groups and other organizations because of the political messages those groups actively promote,” Johnson said. “While Congress will have to take steps to prevent President Obama from committing future abuses on the federal level, we can take action now to ensure that similar actions never occur on the state level. Our goal is to ensure that Alabamians never have to worry about their state government threatening them because of their political views.”
The legislation makes it unlawful for the Alabama Department of Revenue as well as County and Municipal Governments and their agents to audit an individual or group because of their political beliefs or statements.
Violating the act could result in the immediate loss of employment and is punishable by potential jail time and fines.
This act will help ensure that political speech and political expression are protected rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Johnson said the bill was drafted in response to revelations that the federal Internal Revenue Service had audited, denied non-profit status, or otherwise targeted various conservative political groups based simply upon their beliefs and statements.
The Wetumpka TEA Party was among the groups targeted and its leader, Becky Gerritson, was called to testify before a Congressional committee in June.
The bill now moves to the State Senate for consideration.