IRS Admits To Targeting Conservative Groups Over Tax Status

Congressional Republicans vow an investigation into "thuggish" focus on conservative political groups.

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Tea Party Patriots members shout slogans during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court March 28, 2012 in Washington, DC.

The Internal Revenue Service acknowledged Friday that it had inappropriately targeted conservative political groups for additional scrutiny during the 2012 election cycle, an admission that set off a firestorm on Capitol Hill and could damage the Obama Administration.

Lois Lerner, the official in charge of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, revealed the move Friday at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association in Washington. Lerner said organizations whose names contained the phrase “tea party” or “patriots” were selected for additional reviews of their 501 (c) (4) tax-exempt status as social welfare groups.

“That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate,” Lerner said, according to the Associated Press. “That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review.”

In a conference call with reporters Friday afternoon, the agency said the errors were limited to a group of IRA workers in its Cincinnati office, who singled out 300 applications for tax-exempt status for review. One-quarter of those were conservative groups. None of the groups had their status revoked, but some withdrew their applications in the face of requests to divulge their donors. “Mistakes were made initially, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan rationale,” the IRS said in a statement. “We fixed the situation last year and have made significant progress in moving the centralized cases through our system.”

Workers were looking for signs that the groups were primarily focused on political activity, which would have violated their tax status. Campaign finance groups have long complained that political groups have improperly received tax-exempt designations despite using their money to influence elections.

The admission by the IRS was made ahead of a forthcoming report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. It comes a year after Tea Party groups first complained they had been subjected to undue scrutiny because of their political leanings. An IRS spokesperson would not comment on whether any disciplinary actions were taken against the responsible employees.

The revelations incensed congressional Republicans and appeared to validate Tea Party complaints. “The fact that Americans were targeted by the IRS because of their political beliefs is unconscionable,” Representatives Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan said in a statement. Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, vowed to begin a probe that would “hold responsible officials accountable for this political retaliation.”

“The IRS has demonstrated the most disturbing, illegal and outrageous abuse of government power,” said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots. “This deliberate targeting and harassment of tea party groups reaches a new low in illegal government activity and overreach.”

The revelation didn’t sit much better with groups on the left. “Even the appearance of playing partisan politics with the tax code is about as constitutionally troubling as it gets,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called on the White House to investigate. “Today’s acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year’s national election is not enough,” he said in a statement. “I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not under way at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney conceded Friday afternoon that “there does appear to have been inappropriate action that we would want to see investigated.”

170 comments
analysis
analysis

Shall we hold Democrats to their own standards?

’He has, through his subordinated and agents, endeavored…to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner,’

— Section 1, Article 2, the impeachment articles of Richard Nixon.

Drafted by House Democrats with Hillary Clinton on staff, btw

CrossWinds
CrossWinds

Christians will be the Jews of the 21st century..........

........Matthew 24:9..........

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.

1angryrepublican
1angryrepublican

Is this not from the same government that Obama referred to a few days ago adressing the Ohio graduating class dismissing claims of tyranny? If this is not goverment tyranny, then I don't know what is! All Senators and Representatives should start filing articles of IMPEACHMENT this very day!

LenSimpson
LenSimpson

There is not one soul in all of foggy bottom that could stand  a really close scrutiny.

paulejb
paulejb

"Breaking: Senior IRS officials knew of targeting conservative groups in 2011; Update: IRS chief counsel knew in 2011"

"The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.

But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “Tea Party,” ”Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says. …

On Jan, 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement,” the report says.

While this was happening, several committees in Congress were writing IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to express concern because tea party groups were complaining of IRS harassment.

In Shulman’s responses, he did not acknowledge targeting of tea party groups. At a congressional hearing March 22, 2012, Shulman was adamant in his denials.

“There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman said at the House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing."

Lerner’s going to look like a liar.  Shulman might end up facing charges of lying to Congress and perhaps obstruction as well.  It probably won’t end there, either.

http://hotair.com/archives/2013/05/11/breaking-senior-irs-officials-knew-of-targeting-conservative-groups-in-2011/

paulejb
paulejb

"AP EXCLUSIVE: IRS KNEW TEA PARTY TARGETED IN 2011"

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general's report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner."

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/irs-apologizes-targeting-tea-party-groups

The attempted cover-up quickly collapses.

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

So Joe, do you have any suggestion on how the IRS SHOULD have dealt with the sudden proliferation of political groups seek 501(c) status even though that precludes them being primarily engaged in political activity. You seem to be able to come with all the answers from your couch. try that one on for size.



paulejb
paulejb

"6. endeavouring to misuse the Central Intelligence Agency, an agency of the United States;"

That got Richard Nixon impeached. Substitute IRS for CIA and you have Obama's impeachment.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@analysis Shall we hold GWB accountable for using the NSA and FBI to spy on and intimidate peace activists, and for allowing Monica Goodling to install a political purity test for all new hires at the US Justice Department?

paulejb
paulejb

@LenSimpson 

That is not true. The janitorial staff is probably very trustworthy.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb You do realize that the guy denying the targeting was a Bush Appointee IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman. I wonder what Bush had against the Tea Party?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb And amusingly it looks like the lying was done by a former Bush Appointee. Guess old habits are hard to break.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejbYou do realize that the only thing this article does is confirm Jay Carney's earlier claim that the IRS was run by a Bush appointee. Good job Paule, saved me the trouble of searching it out.

While this was happening, several committees in Congress were writing IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to express concern because tea party groups were complaining of IRS harassment.

In Shulman's responses, he did not acknowledge targeting of tea party groups. At a congressional hearing March 22, 2012, Shulman was adamant in his denials.

"There's absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people" who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman said at the House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing.

The portion of the draft report reviewed by the AP does not say whether Shulman or anyone else in the Obama administration outside the IRS was informed of the targeting. But it is standard procedure for agency heads to consult with staff before responding to congressional inquiries.

Shulman was appointed by President George W. Bush, a Republican. His 6-year term ended in November. President Barack Obama has yet to nominate a successor. The agency is now run by an acting commissioner, Steven Miller.

paulejb
paulejb

@PaulDirks 

Perhaps the Obama stooges at the IRS could stop using keywords like "TEA PARTY" and "patriot" to single out groups for intensive scrutiny? Think that might work, Dirks?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb Substitute CIA for the Justice department. When are the GWB impeachment hearings?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb Sure this country would do so much better if no taxes were collected. Perhaps they could cut off your unemployment benefits for starters.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb Yep the conspiracy that the GOP only cares about trying to impeach a Democratic president as opposed to actually doing their job has been proven true yet again.

paulejb
paulejb

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb

Federal Election Commission records show Shulman donated $500 to the Democratic National Committee in 2004 while working as an executive at NASD.

paulejb
paulejb

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb 

It would appear that Dougy went over to the dark side, doesn't it, Bugs. Must be something in the water in DC.

paulejb
paulejb

@mantisdragon91 @paulejb

You lose again, Bugs.

"Federal Election Commission records show Shulman donated $500 to the Democratic National Committee in 2004 while working as an executive at NASD."

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb @mantisdragon91 Or it just means that yet again Hot Air shoots itself in the foot without bothering to check everything. I would find it hilarious if a former Bush appointee is called on the stand to testify everything he knows. Wonder what other dirt will surface from the last administration.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb @mantisdragon91 @PaulDirks again with the impeachable abuse of power crap? It was done at the local level. I don't condone it, just pointing out that its not illogical that recently created political non profits should warrant more attention.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@paulejb @mantisdragon91 9/11, Iraq, Katrina, Politicization of the Justice Department, outing of Valerie Plame, Haliburton no bid contracts. I could go on, but I think my point has been made.