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Chuck Harder was once one of the nation’s leaders in alternative news and talk radio, until an ongoing, 18-year-long IRS audit – which some have suspected was politically motivated – virtually silenced his once prominent, independent voice.
In the 1990s a Talk Daily survey ranked Harder, host of “For the People,” as one of the top 10 radio talkers in America. Harder was also founder of the People’s Network Inc., which provided 24-hour programming to 300 radio stations and 83 TV broadcasters around the country, as well as a shortwave radio service for those who couldn’t hear his show on their local AM station.
But within days of Bill Clinton’s election to the presidency, Harder was slapped with an IRS audit that his accountant has called “harassment” and that over nearly two decades of pressure has effectively stripped the microphone from Harder’s hands.
“PNI has been fighting a politically motivated IRS audit started by Hillary Clinton in 1993,” Harder told WND. “They sicced the IRS on us. They couldn’t finish the job in time (for the 1996 election), so in ’96 they sicced [a lawsuit filed by the United Auto Workers labor union] on us. They want to destroy Chuck Harder – and they’re doing a pretty good job.”
Harder’s former accountant, Douglas Perrault, who was also forced out of
business after being overloaded with extensive IRS demands, said he doesn’t agree with everything Chuck says, “but I agree with him absolutely on this point, that they’re trying to put him out of business.”
“It would be one thing if they came in and audited ‘For the People’ or Peoples Network Inc., but they’ve been there [for] years,” he said. “That’s harassment.”
Harder entered the world of talk radio as a teenager in the 1960s, building up 25 years of experience before syndicating his own three-hour program, “For the People,” from a one-car garage in Tampa, Fla.
“For the People” talked economics and government policy, advocated for consumers and investigated corruption, unafraid to bash both Big Business and Big Government. Neither “left” nor “right” – or perhaps a mix of both – Harder’s independent streak was made evident by welcoming Ralph Nader as a weekly guest for more than 10 years and partnering with Dr. Pat Choate, who was later chosen as Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1996 presidential election.
In 1989 Harder founded PNI as a 501(c)3 tax-exempt foundation based in White Springs, Fla., to provide programming to hundreds of stations around the clock, a move that would eventually provide a door for the IRS.
As WND reported, the original IRS audit notice alleged Harder had attempted to influence the 1992 election against George H. W. Bush. If provable, it would be grounds for removing its tax exempt status. Eventually the IRS centered on such allegations as “electioneering,” “personal inurement” (milking the organization for personal gain) and failure to pay income tax on sales of the products.
Harder, however, dismisses the notion that it was remarks about Bush that prompted the audit. He sees it clearly as coming from the Clinton White House.
In 1992 PNI published a newspaper, the News Reporter, which had a circulation of about 40,000. In Harder’s words it was a “feisty little independent paper” that was too feisty for the incoming administration.
“We were doing a lot of muckraking, and I know we hit the radar screen at the DNC,” Harder told WND. “We looked not only into George Bush’s dirty laundry, but Bill Clinton’s. We wrote a series of articles prior to the election about Whitewater and the strange deaths near Mena Airport. We also called attention to his sexual encounters.”
Buried in paperwork by the audit, Harder eventually chose to seek investors to make PNI a for-profit organization and found the United Auto Workers, who agreed to buy PNI’s assets and create a new company with Harder called the United Broadcasting Network.
The deal soon turned sour, adding a series of lawsuits on top of the audit. According to one suit, Hillary Clinton allegedly complained to the UAW over its partnership with Harder and the networks insensitivity “to the wishes of the president and Mrs. Clinton in conjunction with its on-air contents.”
Shortly thereafter, UBN forced Harder off the air, and the host left the network that he saw as growing into a mouthpiece for the Democratic Party. UBN soon went bankrupt.
After a series of short-lived stints on air, “For the People” eventually moved to satellite and Internet broadcasts. By late 2009, Harder’s show could only be heard on the Internet through streaming audio. Currently, his show is not being broadcast anywhere.
Harder told WND, however, that he’s hoping to get back on the air soon – perhaps within the next few weeks – through New Abilities TV, a television network with an FCC license, studios and broadcast equipment.