The Real IRS Scandal

Auditing so-called social-welfare groups isn't a mistake. The problem was the IRS chose its targets poorly

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Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call / Getty Images

Tea party activist William Temple marches in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, June 27, 2012.

The IRS is unpopular on its best days, and the past few have been among its worst. The agency’s admission that it targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny drew condemnation from across the political spectrum on Monday. “Outrageous,” declared Barack Obama. House and Senate leaders from both parties promised an investigation. Some of the Tea Party groups refused to even accept its apology.

All this outrage threatens to obscure an important point: the IRS does need to crack down on political groups masquerading as social-welfare organizations. Many of the nonprofit groups who claim 501(c)(4) status either flout tax law or flirt with the murky line between electioneering and issue advocacy, all while using their tax-exempt status to conceal their donors. The problem isn’t that the IRS flagged nonprofit groups for additional review. The problem is that it did so poorly, lavishing special attention on Tea Party outfits when it should have been scrutinizing everyone — or at least more egregious offenders.

(MORE: The Taxman Cometh: New IRS Scandal Echoes a Long History of Political Harassment)

This is easier said than done. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in January 2010, donors flocked to 501(c)(4)s as a vehicle to pump cash into elections without disclosing the source of their contributions. The number of groups applying for social-welfare status has since doubled. In 2012, the news outlet ProPublica examined 72 501(c)(4) applications from groups that claimed to have no plans to spend money on elections. They compared those documents against the subsequent tax returns. Nearly half of the groups found their plans had changed.

In last year’s elections, 501(c)(4) groups spent more than $300 million in dark money, according to Lisa Rosenberg of the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan government-transparency group based in Washington. There is no way to police all these groups, Rosenberg acknowledges. But the IRS, deluged with social-welfare applications at the same time the Tea Party movement was on the rise, appears to have picked a political filter as a shortcut. “It’s the right thing to do to be looking into which of these groups are legitimate social-welfare organizations and which are political organizations. It’s absolutely necessary,” Rosenberg says. “There’s no question the way the IRS apparently went about it was wrong. But the fact that they were doing it is absolutely right.”

The method the IRS used to determine which groups to investigate — singling out keywords like tea party, patriot and other conservative terms of art — was “just backwards,” says Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign-finance watchdog Democracy 21. “There are a number of groups that have blatantly been abusing the tax laws in order to hide their donors. Those are the groups that the IRS should have been investigating.”

(MORE: IRS Admits to Targeting Conservative Groups Over Tax Status)

Beginning in the fall of 2010, Democracy 21 and another nonpartisan group called the Campaign Legal Center have urged the IRS to crack down on groups that have improperly claimed social-welfare status. Among the leading offenders, Wertheimer says, are two right-leaning groups, Crossroads GPS and the American Action Network; PrioritiesUSA, which supported Obama’s re-election; and the short-lived Americans Elect, which tried to raise a third-party presidential candidate to compete in 2012 despite registering as a social-welfare nonprofit.

The IRS, Wertheimer says, was provided with evidence that clearly documented how these groups flouted IRS regulations, which hold that they must be “primarily” engaged in social-welfare activities rather than electioneering. (Crossroads GPS founder Karl Rove even acknowledged in a Wall Street Journal editorial that his group had funneled millions into an ad blitz on behalf of Mitt Romney.) And yet the IRS chose instead to adopt a crude criteria targeting possible Tea Party transgressors.

One of the predictable ironies of the IRS decision is that the scandal has breathed new life into the groups the organization had sought to disrupt. Until last week, the Tea Party had been on the wane. Now it is back in the news, fed by outrage at its persecution. “They came up with a formulaic way of looking at groups simply because of their names,” Wertheimer says of the IRS. “Which was wrong. And they haven’t dealt with the real abuses that are going on.”

For campaign-finance watchdogs, the fear is that the backlash will spook the IRS out of pursuing major players who are using the loophole to influence elections. “Our concern now,” Wertheimer says, “is to make sure the focus on IRS abuses does not become cover for political organizations that are blatantly misusing the tax laws.”

MORE: Joe Klein: IRS Scandal Means More Washington Gridlock

180 comments
wsterr
wsterr

It is my understanding that 300 groups were flagged for special investigation, of which 75 were conservative.  That hardly seems like "singling out".


And the past actions of an organization should be considered before granting an organization tax exemption and donor obfuscation rights.  Otherwise, al Kaida could receive a 501c4 designation.

dougyr2000
dougyr2000

What you fail to recognize or maybe you want to blow over the fact the IRS cannot scrutinize a group for what might occur. The IRS has to approve a group then after time the IRS can come in and investigate whether or not the group is following the rules. Instead the IRS scrutinized conservative groups prior to the exemption being given.

In other words, groups like Media Matters or the NAACP can be investigated to see if they gave more to political campaigns or to social welfare.

But when a person like Lois Lerner can attack one party affiliation through two federal agencies it is time to tear apart the bureaucracy they have built.

TomStephens
TomStephens

The IRS needs to be fired immediately! Now we hear that they are making videos and spending money and lavish ways upon each other. And these are the people who are going to be in charge of Obama care? Do you really trust these people? And if you don't how do we monitor them 24 seven 365? Because that is what is one have to happen in order to guarantee that things like this will not happen again. You cannot take their word for it, they are not trustworthy and they lie! But you do not dare lie to them! We need to immediately go to a flat tax. That is the only solution is the right solution. And it is very fair for all of us. It will eliminate the corruption forever!

JoyMcclellan
JoyMcclellan

These social welfare organizations, otherwise known as the crazy wing of the GOP, should be in OK. helping pick up debris left from destroyed homes and actually doing some social welfare.

VanceHu
VanceHu

lol, defending the indefensible.  THE IRS EMPLOYEES CAME OUT AND ADMITTED THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE BEEN TARGETING CONSERVATIVE GROUPS ORDERED FROM THE TOP!

Hmmm, Tea Party is destructive according to you?  Find me any Tea Party rallies resulted in property and personal damages.  


Oh yeah, the few issues reported by the "main stream" media turn out to be hoax.


Great writing however, if you're a fiction writer.




PhillEntropic
PhillEntropic

The very large zionist run organisations like Koch brothers (zionist jew) and Carl Rove (shabbos goy) who were the ones who spent the most money on the election all got a free pass from the zionist (Steve Miller, jewish) conrtolled IRS. 

The small 'genuine' grass roots organisations were the ones who were targeted. This has NOTHING to so with a left leaning administration disadvantaging the right. Thats just the lie the media spews.

THE REAL STORY IS THAT ZIONISTS  ATTEMPTED TO DESTROY TRUE PATRIOTS WHO WISH TO UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION.


ahandout
ahandout

Oh yes, great piece of journalism. If this were mother Russia or some 3rd world nation where the ruling party controls the media...Oh that's right, it's that fundamental changey thing.

We haven't even found out what the IRS has done, how far up the ladder the scandal goes, and already the state run (for all intents and purposes) media, like Time, is out there layin' down the smokescreen. F you Time. YOU don't deserve to be issued a "press" pass. Just join the DNC already. Can we an investigation up in here?

ahandout
ahandout

Pundits: Well the IRS is abusive! But, ah, eh, and it should go after this group or that group. WTF?

Abolish this abusive and abused agency once and for all. Scatter it to the winds and all the accountants that go with it.

There is nothing in the constitution that states that the United States needs a tyranical agency of government that is used by both parties to punish others. Then eliminate the EPA and the Federal Reserve and all the other abuses of power that this government wields over its citizens and we might actually be free people again. Or, do you feel some special need to have the government's boot on your neck?

3W3
3W3

The real IRS controversy is not that small groups that appear to have an obvious electoral motive and applied for tax-exempt status were targeted for additional scrutiny, but that millionaire and billionaire funded groups with obvious electoral motives, empowered by the Citizens United decision; 85% of which are "conservative" organizations, like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS group, the Koch brothers backed Americans for Prosperity and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform; that don’t have to disclose their donors, unleashed a flood of secret spending in US elections that the IRS, the Federal Election Commission and other regulatory agencies in Washington, have been unable or unwilling  to stem, totaling more than $250 million during the last election.

Millionaire and billionaire funded groups with obvious electoral motives like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS group, the Koch brothers backed Americans for Prosperity and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform as well as Obama's Organizing for Action are not true "social welfare" groups and should not be able to use 501(c)(4) fund political elections without disclosing their donors or avoid paying taxes.     

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, conservative "nonprofits" spent more than $263 million during the 2012 campaign, while liberal counterparts spent close to $35 million. A separate Center For Responsive Politics/Center for Public Integrity study found that in 2010, the social welfare nonprofits outspent super PACs by a 3-2 margin.

dfed
dfed

The story right now is not in regards to what constitutes a organization from qualifying for a 501(c) -- it is about US citizens being attacked because of a certain political belief by the IRS.  The story does not mentioned how liberal groups that applied for 501(c) status during this same time requests were expedited and approved - this is the STORY.  


mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

"This week, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough joined the chorus of those decrying the IRS for targeting Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny in applying for nonprofit status. “You can’t allow the government to tread on political speech,” Scarborough said. “The Internal Revenue Service — the taxman — to go after their political beliefs. … I can’t imagine much worse than this,” he added."

Except, of course, in 2003 when he wanted the IRS to "yank" the tax exempt status of the NAACP.

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/16/joe_scarborough_in_2003_yank_the_naacps_tax_exempt_status/



RobertCraigen
RobertCraigen

Hi Alex.  You tip your hand, friend.  You say,

"One of the predictable ironies of the IRS decision is that the scandal has breathed new life into the groups the organization had sought to disrupt"

After arguing for most of your piece that the motive to disrupt was absent; the problem was they were using a poorly-chosen shortcut to do a perfectly legitimate thing, for apparently benign reasons.

So...are you saying that, while there MAY have been perfectly legitimate reasons for a large-scale upswing in targeting of conservative groups (with no corresponding trend targeting progressive groups) in an election year, you concede that this was nevertheless obviously motivated by the desire to "disrupt" said conservative groups, i.e. to interfere with their activities and effectiveness?

If so ... THAT's the scandal, my friend.

Your piece is deliciously silent on the most lurid details of the IRS campaign.  For example, one progressive group has come forward to admit that they had been provided tax information from 31 different conservative groups by the IRS in 2012.  That's only one.  I think even you will admit that there is not a strong motivation for a progressive group in this situation for freely offer this sort of information -- I'd lay good money that where one rat is found, there are a dozen.  Or a hundred.  In other words this is likely the tip of an iceberg whose true scale we'll likely never know.  But even if it is an isolated case, it is noteworthy and more than serious enough for heads to roll.

SansArmes
SansArmes

What everyone seems to have ignored is that these organizations are not required to apply for tax exemption. (Reference the Inspector General's report, second sentence on page 1 and Figure 1 on page 2)

As there is practically no taxable money, they are being exempted from nothing. The only reason that Congress created this mess is to allow big donors to political campaigns and causes to evade the requirements of campaign financing laws.

redrocket60
redrocket60

Sadly, after the President promised to take this seriously, he has called for the resignation of interim IRS chairman Steve Miller who was on his way out, so that was in no way seriously addressing the nature of the totally unconstitutional activities of the IRS. Today, he has moved the person in charge of the tax exemption division to head Obamacare division. He has also promoted Susan Rice to National Security Advisor. The military has a phrase for this "F... up, move up". Is he trying to self destruct? I see no possible way of charming the Republicans into bipartisanship with moves like that because the Republicans are going to see this as bribing these people who are or maybe involved in 2 serious scandals which have not yet been fully investigated. The Democrats need to save this man from himself.

EddieHoward
EddieHoward

Alex come lately, with lefty groups like the NAACP, Media matters, Move On, around for decades, this twerp now thinks the IRS needs to clamp down...what a buffoon!

powshel
powshel

It is important that the ITS collect all taxes due.  Where do you find tax avoidance; the 501 (c)'s.  What would you do let them escape and find other people to tax?  Why not the poor, they don't have a lobby.

What you must remember, even if the non-profits don't pay taxes up to a limited, they must report and pay taxes on income that is not related to their non-tax portion of the business.   There are ways to not make taxable income. Some people do not know the games that are played.  If they did, they would want 100% audits.

Stop falling for those "I hate Obama" BS before we lose a country.



arrestforcefeeders
arrestforcefeeders

immediatly fire: irs workers who: against the rules of the irs, discriminated agianst people based on their political status and asked unnessicary questions in applications, witnessed misconduct and dispite being able to didnt report or fire misconductors, ordered/directed irs-workers to commit misconduct. charge misconductors a refund of wages from date of misconduct to date of fire. charge irs workers who agianst the rules of the irs, exsessivly delyed tax-exempt status, to refund all taxes paid to those who were sapose to be tax-exempt.

make irs workers sign contracts that they will follow the rules and if they dont they will be fired and owe refund of wages and owe other appropriate refunds and charges.

its illegal for irs to collect taxes that are sapose to be exempt

put irs and gov under 24-7live public video survailence, unless gov has good reason for certian info to be kept secret, not all conduct needs to be secret and should be supervised by public. permit people un-paid by gov to do suprize inspections on the irs.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

This might shock you, but the politicos weighing in on the IRS scandal aftermath occasionally leap to conclusions. Over the weekend, the National Republican Congressional Committee issued attacks on Democratic incumbents because they (or more realistically, their spokesmen) had not issued responses to the scandal. (For example: "We all know that Tim Bishop could care less about crushing debt and wasteful government spending, but his failure to speak up on these issues on behalf of [his] constituents is flat out wrong.") A big assumption on the right is that Democrats spurred the IRS's bad behavior by banging the table about the Kochs and Karl Rove and all those rich people hiding money in tax-exempt "social welfare" groups.

Why assume? Because the IG report actually absolves the rest of the administration and the Obama campaign from the accusation of direct pressure. The key lines:

We asked the Acting Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division; the Director, EO; and Determinations Unit personnel if the criteria were influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS. All of these officials stated that the criteria were not influenced by any individual or organization outside the IRS. Instead, the Determinations Unit developed and implemented inappropriate criteria in part due to insufficient oversight provided by management. Specifically, only first-line management approved references to the Tea Party in the BOLO [Be on the Look-Out] listing criteria before it was implemented. As a result, inappropriate criteria remained in place for more than 18 months.

This is why, since the report came out, you've heard more questions about when/why/how key Democrats learned of the story, and why they didn't react until the AP broke the news last Friday. Recall that the IRS officials dinged here are often career officials and Bush appointees -- not great scalps. The IG's saying that they're the only scalps that deserved to be separated from their skulls.

judiann11
judiann11

We can count on misuse of laws. That's what US of A is all about and that with a nation of "sheeple" is a real BINGO.

megapril
megapril

Well Alex & Time, I guess you get some points for obfuscating the bigger problem here, which of course is that this current administration is using every tool possible to cut down their enemies... Surely I agree that these so called Tax Exempt organizations need some thorough auditing to make sure they actually do qualify to pay no taxes on whatever funds or assets they claim. Surely you would agree that equal organizations that lean liberal or left deserve the same spotlight? I hope so... But what we really have in this case, is a witch hunt against anyone who disagrees with the President and his administration, and apparent views on which direction this great country should be heading.

Again, nice try, but THAT is the real scandal and I am sure we have only sighted the perverbial tip of the iceberg. So much more to come... I hope you're prepared.

powshel
powshel

@ahandout The IRS is doing its job the best they can with their reduced headcount and the major in crease in workload.  It is more likely that the computer is the culprit.  If you submit missing or questionable information, the system will generate a letter requesting additional information. What wrong with that?  Do it right the first time.  

jacquesshellac
jacquesshellac

@3W3 Which millionaires and billionaires are you talking about? Does George Soros get included in that set? The leaders of the AFL-CIO? And do you really expect people to believe that Barack Obama, who spent over a billion dollars on each election, really ran an "underfunded" campaign compared to his Republican opponent?

I think you've helped explain why this kind of criminality goes on. You're willing to give lip service to the idea that federal corruption is bad, but are quite comfortable to excuse it if it's for what you consider to be a "good cause". I suspect many of the government employees of the IRS, who depend on increased tax revenues for their own pay raises and benefits packages, consider going after libertarian groups a "good cause" - and apparently you do as well. They're all run by "millionaires and billionaires", yes?

We cannot trust people with absolute powers. That especially goes for sanctimonious, self-righteous liberals who consider the rule of law to be only a minor inconvenience. Thanks for illustrating why.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@dfed I think it is also instructive in terms of seeing the core difference between the two parties. When this was done under the Democrats the president stood up a clearly stated that it is wrong and unacceptable. When this was done 9 years ago against churches who preached against the war in Iraq under the GOP not a word of condemnation from the ruling party was heard.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RobertCraigen So the IRS is not supposed to investigate a land rush of Political organizations masquerading as social welfare agencies? Out of curiosity before you got all outraged did you bother to check what percentage of all groups applying for 501 C status at the time were "Tea Party" organizations "Astro Turfed" by Koch funded GOP operatives? I would bet that the percentage was much, much greater than the 25% of all applications actually audited.

powshel
powshel

@SansArmes If 501 (c)4  are not required to apply, why are they doing so and complaining about the waiting period.  There is some kind of gimmick going on here.  Probably the same approach that got the top tax bracket 95% to 35%.  Or it may be like Romney who attempted to get the dividend rate to 1%, of course his millions of income is from dividends.  Iit is a miracle that we get any money into the treasury.  The rich has their tax rate so low.  Now they have sent 34 trillion out of the country to avoid taxes on that.

Could it be that there are other legal requirements they are trying to get around?

LouWeitzel
LouWeitzel

@powshel Unless someone is disabled there is no reason they can not work and contribute their FAIR SHARE.

drudown
drudown

@powshel 

Concur.

Equally disingenuous is the pervading assumption that, even assuming that the IRS "profiled" certain GOP "charities", there was no underlying violation of said 501(c) status.

Where is the evidentiary support for such a proposition?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@megapril That would be the last administration. IRS, FBI, NSA Justice department. Start with what the FBI and NSA did with the Quakers who protested the Iraq war and go from there.

powshel
powshel

@ahandout @VanceHu What would you call the main stream writers.  They never fail to point out what Obama should have done, and anybody else that may get in their way.  They know they have millions of simple minded followers.

ahandout
ahandout

@powshel @ahandout BS to 10th degree.  Barry hired 16,000 more IRS employees.  Sure the computer is programmed to ask religious groups what is the content of your prayers.  Get a clue.

RobertCraigen
RobertCraigen

@mantisdragon91 I said nothing of the sort.  I agree that this is within IRS mandate.  You miss the point.  this is about targetting T-A-R-G-E-doubleT-I-N-G.  For the number of comments you make here, I would expect you to pay attention, sir, to the very nature of the issue.  You seem only interested in ... SQUIRREL!

LouWeitzel
LouWeitzel

@powshel @SansArmes Are you people for real? Let.s give people who break the law  the rights and give taxpaying citizens the wrath of other people\, who are no better than us, the right to take our rights. Is taht the question?

RobertCraigen
RobertCraigen

@mantisdragon91 @EddieHoward Hey Manti.  The IRS asks EVERYONE irritating questions.  But nobody has produced any evidence -- and nobody in the IRS is asserting -- that liberal or progressive groups had a similar target put on their backs.  ONLY the conservative groups were targetted.

Further, the timelines for granting the 501s have been shorter for the Lib groups.  Long an irritating, yes (some Lib groups are saying as much as 18 months).  But far longer for the conservative groups (For many Tea Party groups it's been 3 years, many rounds of questioning, and they're still waiting).  Almost of the Tea Party groups have posted annual budgets in the 4-figure range -- under $10K.  The IRS is spending more than that to persecute each one of them.

The ignorance of you guys sitting in the Progressive echo chambers is epic.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RobertCraigen @mantisdragon91 You mean the way the GOP pressured the IRS to threaten the existing Tax Exempt Status of Churches that preached against the Iraq war? Where was your outrage then?

RobertCraigen
RobertCraigen

@mantisdragon91Squirrel! Nice attempt at distraction.  Or more specifically, Tu Quoque

But by all means, please connect the dots for us mantis.  Name the churches involved and describe the nature of the visits they underwent and the basis for being "threatened" with the loss of their tax exempt status.  How about a couple of links to neutrally written stories on this case.  Explain why you think this is a 'bigger deal'.   As for the president's comments, two things:  First, it's good for the president to make such a statement when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing.  But it's BAD if there is NO evidence of wrongdoing.

Second, this president is famous for saying one thing while doing the opposite.  I put zero stock in anything he says.  I'm more interested in what he does.  He loves smoke and mirrors -- like acting really REALLY angry and going in for a one-on-one and  FIRING the IRS Chief:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/05/15/191352/obama-fires-irs-chief.html#.UZfNDuBPczI

Except, when the smoke cleared, it turns out the smoke wasn't generated by a "FIRE" in the first place -- it was only another mirror.  The guy was scheduled to leave this temporary position next month anyway.

http://www.wnd.com/2013/05/obama-fires-irs-commissioner-due-to-scandal/

Further, this guy isn't losing anything, just being re-assigned, and for now he's still got his post and all its perks.  More importantly, this guy wasn't even in charge at the time.  He's a faithful career-functionary who has served in the IRS for 25 years and was assigned as interim commissioner in 2012 AFTER this policy was in place.

At the same time (don't look at the hand that's actually doing anything ... look at the one the prez is waving in the air over here!  Squirrel! Squirrel!) the general public is not being told about the ACTUAL person in charge of the unit persecuting the Tea Party groups while the odious targeting policy was carried out.

Know where she is now?  

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/05/17/second-irs-official-to-leave-amid-tea-party-scandal/

Ah, right. She's now in charge of the IRS office that oversees ObamaCare.  Remember, that shiny new program the Supreme Court decided would be illegal except if subsumed under the tax code?  The new worlds-largest "medical insurance provider":  administered for you by the IRS.  Nice place for a partisan with a record of using organs of state to persecute political enemies of her boss.

Stop recycling Media Matters talking points, Manti, and do some research of your own.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RobertCraigen @mantisdragon91 Here is an even bigger issue. In 2004 much worse was done when Churches that gave anti war sermons were visited by the IRS and threatened with the loss of their tax exempt privileges, and nothing was done to right that wrong. At least in this instance the president had the decency to stand up and state with no hesitation that this is not acceptable. Something that I have never heard from the past administration.

powshel
powshel

@LouWeitzel @powshel @SansArmes What law did people break?  The Republicans make some silly statement and their followers believe it, sad.  

If the part-time workers and the low pay people at the IRS are screening some make believe organization like the so called tea party, which 90% never heard of, would surprise me.

Most people do not understand that the Republicans pick any item and say Obama did it.  There goes the followers; lets see if we can make it sound worst.  They do not realize that they are hurting Obama only the country.

RobertCraigen
RobertCraigen

@mantisdragon91 Again, you fail to understand the issue.  Though you (and the article you cite) use the term "targeted" the content belies it.  The cited piece gives no evidence of targetting, only of scrutiny of a progressive group, and not of "extra scrutiny" as the piece delares in its opening lines.  What progressive search terms analogous to "tea party" and "patriot" were used to select progressive groups for IRS persecution?  Which progressive groups with total annual budgets under $1000 were subjected to years-long inquiries that wandered far from taxation issues and their political activities?  Have you been watching the congressional hearings on CSPAN?  If so you will know that these questions have been put to senior IRS officials -- and they stand there MUTE.    

When you have some actual evidence of targeting -- such as progressive-specific search terms used by the IRS in their inquisition, then by all means enlighten us, my friend.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@RobertCraigen@mantisdragon91

While few are defending the Internal Revenue Service for targeting some 300 conservative groups, there are two critical pieces of context missing from the conventional wisdom on the “scandal.” First, at least from what we know so far, the groups were not targeted in a political vendetta — but rather were executing a makeshift enforcement test (an ugly one, mind you) for IRS employees tasked with separating political groups not allowed to claim tax-exempt status, from bona fide social welfare organizations. Employees are given almost zero official guidance on how to do that, so they went after Tea Party groups because those seemed like they might be political. Keep in mind, the commissioner of the IRS at the time was a Bush appointee.

The second is that while this is the first time this kind of thing has become a national scandal, it’s not the first time such activity has occurred.

“I wish there was more GOP interest when I raised the same issue during the Bush administration, where they audited a progressive church in my district in what look liked a very selective way,” California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff said on MSNBC Monday. “I found only one Republican, [North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones], that would join me in calling for an investigation during the Bush administration. I’m glad now that the GOP has found interest in this issue and it ought to be a bipartisan concern.”

The well-known church, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena, became a bit of a cause célèbre on the left after the IRS threatened to revoke the church’s tax-exempt status over an anti-Iraq War sermon the Sunday before the 2004 election. “Jesus [would say], ‘Mr. President, your doctrine of preemptive war is a failed doctrine,’” rector George Regas said from the dais.

The church, which said progressive activism was in its “DNA,” hired a powerful Washington lawyer and enlisted the help of Schiff, who met with the commissioner of the IRS twice and called for a Government Accountability Office investigation, saying the IRS audit violated the First Amendment and was unduly targeting a political opponent of the Bush administration. “My client is very concerned that the close coordination undertaken by the IRS allowed partisan political concerns to direct the course of the All Saints examination,” church attorney Marcus Owens, who is widely considered one of the country’s leading experts on this area of the law, said at the time. In 2007, the IRS closed the case, decreeing that the church violated rules preventing political intervention, but it did not revoke its nonprofit status.

 http://www.salon.com/2013/05/14/when_the_irs_targeted_liberals/

RobertCraigen
RobertCraigen

@mantisdragon91 Hey mantis, document this and I'll comment.  But also, please document where, shortly afterwards the IRS actually, you know, DID what they were "pressured" to do.

Presumably like the Senators' letter, what you refer to is open knowledge -- something done in the open.  Anyone can openly call for the IRS to pay attention to this or that.  Saying such things, openly, subject to public scrutiny, is partisan but it's not evil -- it's how our political system works.

But the IRS targeting of Conservatives was done covertly, and they vociferously denied it, until the IG report made it impossible to deny.   There is no clear evidence (of which I'm aware) that it was a direct response to the Senator's demands.  But there is also no clear evidence contrary to this, which seems a likely scenario.  But let's not take our eye off the ball.  The point is not whether this or that OPEN call for groups to be targetted had some effect on IRS policy.  The issue is how IRS behaved, whether in response to open calls, behind-the-scenes influence or internal group-think and bias.

WHAT the IRS did is simply fact that is now being drawn into the open, and by following the documentation that is coming out we have some hope of unravelling what happened, when, and who had a hand in it.  Stay tuned on that.  But WHY they did it will be a matter of speculation for many years and will likely never be fully resolved.

Nevertheless, be our guest Manti -- connect the dots between "the GOP pressured the IRS..." to some awful pogrom against certain churches?

powshel
powshel

@LouWeitzel @mantisdragon91 @megapril When the Republicans were in power, they directed the people they appointed to go after democratic organizations.  The people that obeyed are still there and I would guarantee you that, after the investigation, it would be found that the Republicans told the top people to go after Obama.  The workers could give a damn about the politics of it all.

Why, after seeing that the Republicans paid a company $4 million dollars to destroy registration forms during the last election, would trust them?

LouWeitzel
LouWeitzel

@mantisdragon91 @megapril We should start a revolution against them . Who in the hell do they think they are? They are just PEOPLE, Who WE THINK CAN DO BETTER THAN WE CAN!  I Don't think so!!!