Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) presses IRS to investigate group for making public the record of liberal Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) in largely conservative state.

WASHINGTON – In a move his critics call an abuse of power, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has asked the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate a South Dakota group for shedding light on a colleague\’s voting records.

Baucus, whose committee has oversight over the IRS, seeks an investigation into the Rushmore Policy Council, a Dakota-based group that has run advertisements that publicized the voting record of Sen. Tom Daschle (D) on pro-life and other family values issues.

"Baucus feels Daschle\’s pain, because both are schizophrenic politicians who talk one way as liberals in Washington and act like conservatives when they go home to Montana and South Dakota," said taxpayer advocate Grover Norquist, who heads Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) in Washington, DC. "Sicking the IRS on a group for making voters aware of how liberal Daschle is, is a form of political blackmail that aims to drive a stake in the heart of the First Amendment." ATR is widely considered the most influential taxpayer advocacy organization in America, and is critical of using taxpayer money for political purposes.

Rushmore\’s "Daschle Accountability Project" took the Senate minority leader to task over his positions, but never directed voters to vote for or against him. Yet, Baucus told the IRS that, "If the council is organized and operates for political purposes, the legitimacy of the organization\’s tax-exempt status may be questionable."

"When bringing a politician\’s public record to light is illegitimate, the First Amendment be damned," said Norquist. "It\’s obvious that Daschle, Baucus and company don\’t want South Dakota voters to know how he acts when he\’s in Washington," he continued.