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Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 03:57 pm

DAVID, MEET GOLIATH

Dr. David Gill, a Bloomington emergency room physician and failed Democratic candidate for Congress, is suing the Internal Revenue Service in an effort to get the agency to do its job. In this case, the IRS twiddled thumbs while an outfit called the American Action Network poured more than $1 million into Gill’s 13th Congressional District race in the final days of the campaign last fall, paying for television ads that depicted Gill as a mad scientist who would conduct scary public policy experiments if elected. The ads, with a voiceover straight from a Boris Karloff flick, hit the airwaves around Halloween, and Gill lost by less than 1 percent of the vote. In his lawsuit, Gill says that the American Action Network, headed by a former Republican senator from Minnesota, is anything but the social welfare group it claimed to be when it applied for and was granted tax-exempt status by the IRS in 2010. Rather, Gill says, the American Action Network is a cash funnel for interest groups, including pharmaceutical and health insurance companies that opposed his support for health care reform but didn’t want to attach their names to the ads that helped defeat him. Federal law says that social welfare groups that don’t pay taxes must be run “exclusively for purposes beneficial to the community as a whole,” and so Gill is asking a judge to bar such groups from engaging in political activity. “By its inaction, the IRS has allowed shadowy groups to influence elections under a cloak of darkness,” Gill said in written statement.
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