The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has been exposed for targeting certain conservative groups for extra scrutiny in the application process for tax-exemption. Those groups who used the word “Tea-Party” or “patriots” or something similar in their name, were often subjected to unnecessary, cumbersome and intrusive requests for additional information, which resulted in deliberate and lengthy delays in approving their applications.
Additional allegations made against the IRS include; targeting of donors to conservative groups for painful IRS audits, Obama administration officials publically and erroneously portraying conservative organizations and their donors as shadowy characters that break the law (thus suggesting that an IRS audit of those groups), and leaking tax information illegally on benefactors of conservative groups and groups with concerns about the undermining of the U.S. Constitution.
The targeting of the conservative groups was so bad that over the course of 27 months, not a single “Tea Party” type organization got tax-exempt status, while groups that support liberal causes were approved for tax-exemption routinely. The IRS would simply stall the applications by requesting mountains of information from “Tea Party” groups, even asking questions concerning confidential information like donor lists, political affiliations of their members and volunteers, etc.
In one case, the IRS targeted a donor to the Romney campaign for three audits in four months. He had never been audited before, and the IRS found nothing wrong with his tax filings. He now has $80,000 in legal bills.
This is intimidation, intended to strike fear into those organizations that might oppose government administration agendas. Some accuse the government of a “systemic, and concerted effort to squash the Tea Party movement…”
The IRS downplayed the issue, suggesting that targeting of conservative groups was just IRS officials’ attempts to be more efficient. They also claimed that it was a few “rogue” IRS agents in one particular office, acting in an insubordinate way.
But it was soon revealed that IRS officials were lying. Letters of request concerning conservative organizations were made by a number of agents across many offices. It seems incomprehensible to many that stalling tax-exemption applications from some groups and not others, and requesting volumes of unnecessary additional information could be making the IRS more “efficient?”
Lois Lerner, the woman in charge of the IRS division that handles tax exemption applications refused to testify before Congress and was put on “administrative leave.” Lerner wrote a “be on the lookout” letter advising IRS agents reviewing requests for tax-exemption to look carefully at the conservative groups.
President Obama reacted in what was meant to sound like indignation. Yet, he himself has publically signaled his displeasure with these groups.
Kimberly Strassel, of the Wall Street Journal pointed out: “Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone [to instruct IRS to scrutinize conservative groups]. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.”
Republican lawmakers said that targeting the Tea Party groups for special scrutiny “outrageous,” “Orwellian persecution,” “the tip of the iceberg,” “just the latest example of a culture of cover-ups — and political intimidation — in this administration.”
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, wrote a letter in which he said “This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.”
Congressman Ron Paul wrote: “The very purpose of the IRS is to transfer wealth from one group to another while violating our liberties in the process.” He also pointed out that the use of the IRS to harass an administration’s opponents is not something new. Presidents F. D. Roosevelt, John, F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton all were known to use the IRS to harass their political opponents.
While Republicans decried the injustice, among most Democrats in Congress [with a few exceptions] there was stunning silence.
Though the whole affair has been characterized as IRS targeting of those with certain conservative political views and have tied it to the re-election campaign of President Obama, most have overlooked the fact that many of these groups have strong religious convictions as well. Could there eventually be targeting of politically incorrect religious opinions at some future time?
The IRS abuse is another way in which the U.S. Constitution’s integrity is being undermined, particularly in the areas of free speech and freedom of association.