The Treasury Department is out with "initial guidance" that amounts to a chilling crackdown on political activity by tax-exempt organizations established under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code. Under the proposed guidelines, candidate-related political activity includes "Communications that are made within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) and clearly identify a candidate or political party" including "Holding an event within 60 days of a general election (or within 30 days of a primary election) at which a candidate appears as part of the program."
It's difficult to articulate just how outrageous this is. You'd end up with less free speech, less political speech, as an election draws near — in other words, at exactly the time when the First Amendment right of free speech is most necessary to help voters make informed decisions. Innocuous activity such as sponsoring a political debate between two candidates risks running afoul of this rule, as would communications between a group's executive leadership and the group's own members. The Supreme Court has struck down similar restrictions already, and if these "guidelines" survive in their "initial" form, they may need to do so again. Let's hope it doesn't come to that, and that either the Obama administration comes to its sense on the matter, or Congress steps in.