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GOP Probe of AARP Could Ensnare Other Nonprofits

“I am proud of the fact the membership dues are kept low,” he said. “We don’t expect to extract incremental dollars from our members.”

Republicans on the committee, however, said AARP has strayed from its mission of helping seniors and was operating more like a for-profit insurance company.

Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.), the chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said the rising insurance royalties “raises questions of where the motives lie” for AARP.

Herger and other Republicans on the committee defended their decision to investigate AARP, saying the group specifically lobbied on legislation that could benefit its business arm. They also noted that Democrats in the past have criticized AARP’s business practice, particularly after the seniors group endorsed the Medicare drug plan that was approved by a Republican Congress and signed by President George W. Bush.

Boustany, however, said his subcommittee would look into the larger question of the tax status of nonprofits at another time.

During the hearing, Democrats complained about the report on the AARP that was produced at the behest of a number of Republican Members.

The Democrats initially balked at allowing the report to be entered into the official record because the Republicans had not spelled out who authorized and paid for it. Herger eventually told them that the report, which was begun 18 months ago, was written by Ways and Means staffers with the help of an IRS official.

Democrats said that the former chairman of the committee, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) had not authorized committee staffers to work on the report.

Correction: April 1, 2011

The article misstated whose subcommittee would look into the larger question of the tax status of nonprofits at another time. It is Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.).

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