The NY Times shocks us by front-paging this:
Leaning Right in Hollywood, Under a Lens
LOS ANGELES — In a famously left-leaning Hollywood, where Democratic fund-raisers fill the social calendar, Friends of Abe stands out as a conservative group that bucks the prevailing political winds.
A collection of perhaps 1,500 right-leaning players in the entertainment industry, Friends of Abe keeps a low profile and fiercely protects its membership list, to avoid what it presumes would result in a sort of 21st-century blacklist, albeit on the other side of the partisan spectrum.
Now the Internal Revenue Service is reviewing the group’s activities in connection with its application for tax-exempt status. Last week, federal tax authorities presented the group with a 10-point request for detailed information about its meetings with politicians like Paul D. Ryan, Thaddeus McCotter and Herman Cain, among other matters, according to people briefed on the inquiry.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the organization’s confidentiality strictures, and to avoid complicating discussions with the I.R.S.
Since you ask, the "Abe" is Abe Lincoln.
Those people said that the application had been under review for roughly two years, and had at one point included a demand — which was not met — for enhanced access to the group’s security-protected website, which would have revealed member names. Tax experts said that an organization’s membership list is information that would not typically be required. The I.R.S. already had access to the site’s basic levels, a request it considers routine for applications for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
Friends of Abe — the name refers to Abraham Lincoln — has strongly discouraged the naming of its members. That policy even prohibits the use of cameras at group events, to avoid the unwilling identification of all but a few associates — the actors Gary Sinise, Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer, or the writer-producer Lionel Chetwynd, for instance — who have spoken openly about their conservative political views.
What is going on? This is like reporting, yet it paints team Obama in an unfavorable light. Disorienting! We even learn that left-leaning groups seem to get tax-exempt status somewhat painlessly:
People for the American Way, Mr. Lear’s group, stands as something of a liberal counterpart to Friends of Abe, though the organization is far larger, with an affiliate that spends millions of dollars a year on issue advocacy in Washington and beyond. But the entertainment industry has been crisscrossed by progressive groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council, which maintains a tax-exempt educational adjunct under the 501(c)(3) provision, and includes the producer Laurie David and the actor Leonardo DiCaprio among its trustees. Another, the American Foundation for Equal Rights [founded in 2009], is a nonprofit that supports marriage rights for gay people and counts the producer Bruce Cohen and the writer Dustin Lance Black among its founders.
Who could have guessed? FWIW, the American Foundation for Equal Rights is structured to have bi-partisan appeal. From Wikipedia:
AFER is governed by a seven-member board of directors. The board president is Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen, and the treasurer is Michele Reiner. Other board members include Academy Award-winner Dustin Lance Black; Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin (who served as AFER's board president prior to his position at HRC); philanthropist Jonathan D. Lewis; former Republican National Committee chairman Kenneth B. Mehlman; and actor and director Rob Reiner. Co-founder Kristina Schake was a board member until December 2010, when she joined the White House staff as Special Assistant to the President and Communications Director to First Lady Michelle Obama.
AFER's staff is headed by Executive Director Adam Umhoefer.
AFER’s advisory board is co-chaired by Robert A. Levy, chairman of the Cato Institute, and John Podesta, Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress. Advisory board members include Julian Bond, Lt. Dan Choi, Margaret Hoover, Dolores Huerta, Cleve Jones, David Mixner, Stuart Milk, Hilary Rosen, and Judy Shepard.