If you’re confused about the controversy over IRS targeting of conservative groups that seek tax-exempt status, this is the piece to read. Former FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith not only makes the law clear, he slices and dices the Left’s argument that somehow conservative groups have been seeking a special break they don’t deserve.

IRS apologists argue that Section 501(c)(4) requires organizations to operate “exclusively for the promotion of social welfare,” but Section 501(c)(4) has never been interpreted to prohibit all political activity.

This explains why left-wing groups such as MoveOn.org, People for the American Way, Naral Pro-Choice America, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have operated for years under 501(c)(4) status. They spend millions to support liberal candidates and agendas, with nary a protest from Democrats now raging against the tea parties and other conservatives. By delaying approval for conservative groups, the IRS left them in legal limbo, with uncertain liabilities, obligations and ability to act—exactly what the Obama administration wanted.