We wanted to know more about how the IRS normally vets applications for tax-exempt status; how groups qualify and what the red flags might be.
Through the 1990s, Marcus Owens was the director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS, overseeing these very issues. As he explained, 501c4 groups must prove to the IRS that their primary purpose is not politics but social welfare - the betterment of community over private interest.
What is it like to be suddenly and irreversibly thrust into the public spotlight for something truly horrible done by a relative?
"I could hear my last name being whispered in the hallway, and I heard 'murder,' just under people's breath," says Melissa Moore, daughter of Keith Hunter Jesperson, who was sentenced to life in prison for the killing of at least eight women over a five-year period.
Perhaps you've noticed a toddler's sagging swim diaper and wondered if it's really keeping the poop out of your neighborhood pool.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the answer for you: no.
Last summer, researchers at the federal public health agency collected 161 filter samples from public swimming pools in the Atlanta area. More than half of those samples, 58 percent, were contaminated with E. coli.
That, the CDC reported today, "signifies that swimmers introduced fecal matter into pool water."
Police in Albuquerque, N.M., are interviewing a man they say is a "person of interest" in the abduction of a five-year-old girl. After the girl was taken Wednesday evening, her mother chased down and rammed the car she had been in; a suspect fled on foot. Authorities say the girl is safe; she was pushed out of the car shortly after being taken.
Update at 3:30 p.m. ET. 'Person Of Interest' Found:
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We're going to spend the last few minutes today talking about some new ideas about race and ethnicity in this country. In a few minutes, we'll hear about a new book that examines how pop culture figures like Jay-Z and Denzel Washington play with and possibly change our ideas about what it means to be a black man in America.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program we will speak with writer and scholar Mark Anthony Neal about his new book, "Looking For Leroy." It's about how black men on stage, screen and on the radio shape and reshape how we think about black men in everyday life. That's in just a few minutes.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Later in the program family members of both the suspects in the Cleveland kidnappings and the Boston Marathon bombings have denounced them. And that made us wonder about the family members of other people who have been accused of horrible acts. So we reached out to two of them - the daughter of a serial killer and the brother of the Unibomber will both be with us in just a few minutes.
"A massive emergency response" is underway in North Texas, where tornadoes blew through Wednesday night, The Dallas Morning News says. A twister that hit Granbury, about 35 miles southwest of Fort Worth, left at least six people dead, more than 100 injured and even more homeless, The Associated Press adds.
President Obama announced late Wednesday that the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Steve Miller, has resigned in the wake of a report that employees at the agency engaged in partisan scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
The president, appearing for a brief statement at the White House, said he had directed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew "to accept the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS."
MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, BYLINE: And I'm Audie Cornish.
The Obama administration is doing some intensive damage control this evening. Tonight, the president announced that the acting commissioner of the IRS, Steven Miller, is being pushed out over heightened scrutiny given to Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations.
When Garfield High School in Los Angeles stopped suspending students for "willful defiance" several years ago, it saw suspensions drop from more than 600 to just one. Tuesday, the Los Angeles Unified School District board voted to follow suit in all LA schools.
School suspensions are a big issue in California. Last year, schools handed out 700,000 of them. But the Los Angeles Unified School District took a step to change that this week when it voted to ban suspension of students deemed "willfully defiant."
The Justice Department's subpoena of Associated Press phone records as part of an investigation into what Attorney General Eric Holder has called "a very grave leak" to the news agency has set off a political firestorm on Capitol Hill, but there's a lot to the AP story published a year ago that started it all.
Hundreds of condolences are appearing online for Richard Swanson, the Seattle man whose plan to dribble a soccer ball all the way to Brazil to raise money for charity ended Tuesday after he was struck and killed by a pickup truck in Oregon. Many see his story as an inspiration, and say they'll continue his charity work.
"It is with a heavy heart to notify you that Richard Swanson passed on this morning," reads an update announcing Swanson's death on the Facebook page for his project, Breakaway Brazil, yesterday.
Attorney General Eric Holder is defending the Justice Department against allegations of overreach after officials revealed that investigators had obtained phone records from the Associated Press. The unusual action is the latest in a year long investigation into a 2012 AP story that revealed details of a terrorist plot out of Yemen. Attorney General Eric Holder summed up the leak this way: "This was a very, very serious leak. It is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen." Dina Temple-Raston talks to Audie Cornish.
The Pentagon has a problem on its hands, a cultural problem. A soldier at Fort Hood, Texas stands accused of inappropriate sexual behavior. He was assigned to the Army office that tries to prevent sexual assault and help victims. That news comes not long after the arrest of an officer who ran the Air Force's sexual assault prevention office.
Attorney General Eric Holder faced critics in both parties at Tuesday's House Judiciary Committee hearing because his Justice Department has subpoenaed two months of phone logs from the Associated Press following a security leak in 2012.
It's been one month since a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding more than 260. NPR's Joel Rose returned to the scene today and found Bostonians observing the somber occasion with little fanfare.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Today as part of our Looking Ahead series, we'll talk with writer Chris Hedges, former New York Times foreign correspondent and old friend and colleague who's joined us many times over the years, going back to what's probably still his best known book, "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."
Just about anything that Angelina Jolie does is pretty much guaranteed to make news. But her announcement that she had decided on a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her unusually high risk of cancer sparked an outpouring of passionate comment on breast cancer prevention and treatment.
A new charter school in Utah wants to equip students in kindergarten through ninth grade with a solid foundation in business.
Students' daily lessons are peppered with concepts like sales and marketing, finance and entrepreneurship, says first-grade teacher Tammy Hill. "And that plays into leadership and improved math skills. And finance plays into every part of their lives."
Credit Erik Hill/Anchorage Daily News / MCT/Landov
A family friend posts fliers after Samantha Koenig's disappearance in 2012. Koenig's father is now an advocate for a mandatory national missing persons database.
Credit Daysha Eaton / KSKA
A map at the Anchorage Police Department tracks the travels of confessed killer Israel Keyes. Investigators say the lack of a unified missing persons database is frustrating efforts to identify other potential victims.
A serial killer who committed suicide in an Alaska jail last year confessed to murdering at least 11 people across the country. But Israel Keyes didn't name names, and investigators trying to figure out who he killed are running into a major stumbling block: There is no unified, mandatory national database for missing persons.