The Tax Man Politicizeth

Well, knock me over with a feather:

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday said that it inappropriately selected tea party political groups for special scrutiny in the 2012 campaign, an admission likely to fuel long-simmering suspicions among conservatives that the IRS has been singling them out for unfair treatment.

The IRS official who oversees tax-exempt groups, Lois Lerner, acknowledged at a conference on Friday the actions were wrong and apologized, according to the Associated Press. Lerner said groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status faced additional screening.

In a statement, the IRS said the screening occurred by career employees in Cincinnati who, between 2010 and 2012, were seeking to centralize work related to tax exempt organizations. The agency said that while it made errors, they were not politically motivated.

Sorry, didn’t mean to bold that part. I just spit my Coke all over the computer when I read it. Apparently, it was just a coincidence that the political groups they gave special scrutiny to were conservative.

Right.

Keep in mind that conservative groups have been complaining about this for months only to have it dismissed as crazy tinfoil hat black helicopter paranoia by the Left. But this was an extremely plausible accusation from the beginning. it’s not like these groups were accusing Obama of using mind-control rays. They were complaining about a tactic known to have been used by several previous presidents to intimidate opponents. In fact, we were just discussing Watergate, which included allegations of IRS abuse by Nixon.

Sometimes, it seems, they really are out to get you. It helps when you’ve made tax law so invasive and complicated that just about anyone can be targeted.

Comments are closed.

  1. Ed Kline

    Lois Lerner, acknowledged at a conference on Friday the actions were wrong and apologized,

    Oh…well they apologized, so lets just move on.

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  2. Hal_10000 *

    Oh…well they apologized, so lets just move on.

    Well, the election is over so they won’t have to harass right wing political groups until at least this fall.

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  3. Mook

    Mark Levin was on the radio earlier. His legal foundation was the one who filed and was as least partially responsible for pressuring the IRS to fess up. He said he’s never seen anything like it – pretty much any organization with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” got investigated. Very over the top and Chicago-like.

    I read that the IRS is blaming “low level” staffers and refusing to say who, if anyone, will be disciplined over this. Probably the same staffers who will be enforcing Obamacare.

    In fact, we were just discussing Watergate, which included allegations of IRS abuse by Nixon.

    And Bill Clinton, although the media didn’t have much interest in his abuses since he was on Team D

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  4. hist_ed

    Will anyone be fired? Anyone at all (even those mysterious low level staffers?)? Better question: Will anyone go to prison?

    Best guess? Nope.

    Once again, President Obama takes us farther down the road to true banana republic status.

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  5. Hal_10000 *

    Mook, I thought I’d mentioned Clinton in there, but apparently didn’t. Dammit. As I recall, Clinton was called out on targetting conservative groups for audits by ACLU, hardly a right wing nuthatch.

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  6. InsipiD

    As I recall, Clinton was called out on targetting conservative groups for audits by ACLU, hardly a right wing nuthatch.

    By that point, it must’ve been so obvious that nobody could deny it.

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  7. Seattle Outcast

    Well, somebody had to expose those EEEEEVVVVIIIIIILLLLLL Koch brothers and their “astro-turfing”, and only the IRS could get to the bottom of their funding schemes…..

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  8. Hal_10000 *

    Well, somebody had to expose those EEEEEVVVVIIIIIILLLLLL Koch brothers and their “astro-turfing”, and only the IRS could get to the bottom of their funding schemes…..

    Have you seen the current hullabaloo over the Koch Brothers potentially buying the LA Times? Staff are threatening to quite, celebrities are begging the paper not to sell. I want it to happen just to see a) everyone have a conniption fit; b) the paper continue with business as normal despite Koch ownership.

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  9. hist_ed

    So don’t normally throw this word around, but if this came from the White House, who thinks this rises to the level of impeachment? Benghazi sucks and should be a major political scandal, but lying for political reasons is not a crime. Leaving the ambassador to get killed is really bad policy, but again not a crime. Abusing the power of the IRS for political reasons? I don’t know if that is a crime (it should be), but that crosses a big red line. I know it won’t happen and maybe I’m dreaming of the comedic gold that President Biden would (literally) bring us, but isn’t this sort of shit why we have the impeachment process? Again, hopefully Obama was not stupid enough to order this and it all came from inside the IRS but . . .

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  10. TheContrarian

    It wasn’t just “low-level employees”

    http://news.yahoo.com/ap-exclusive-irs-knew-tea-party-targeted-2011-190852283.html

    This is a trial balloon. If they can get away with this relatively unscathed it will set a precedent of using the bureaucracy against political opponents no matter who which party is in office. It will skew in the democrats favor because they are more invested in the bureaucracy and government employees often lean democratic anyway.

    Sure, it’s not the first time this sort of thing has been done during a campaign. Nixon tried to bully his opponents as well. The difference is that he was impeached and throne out of office. It remains to be seen whether Obama is directly implicated by this, but at the very least, if some top-level official is not made to resign, it will send the message of “do whatever it takes to win the election, worry about the slap on the wrist punishment later.”

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  11. Hal_10000 *

    hist_ed, IF the President had the IRS target his political opponents, that’s impeachable. It was made against the law under Nixon. However, proving that will be difficult as the IRS is ostensibly an independent agency (and Shulman, the IRS Commissioner at the time, was actually a Bush appointee). There were allegations that this happened under Clinton as well but it never went anywhere.

    So impeachable? Yes. Provable? … probably not unless a paper trail shows up. It should be investigated though because the fact of the audits and the nature of the audits demand investigation.

    My suspicion here is that the IRS wanted to start taking a harder look at 501(c)4 groups. There’s been a long simmering controversy over their tax-exempt status. However, the IRS knew that going after, say, Organizing for America, would bring the shithammer down from the White House. So they went after Tea Party groups knowing that, even if the groups complained, Obama wouldn’t stop them.

    In other words, Obama didn’t actually tell them to go after his enemies (at least not in provable form). But he had no problem with them doing so (wink wink nudge nudge) and they knew that.

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  12. InsipiD

    Nixon tried to bully his opponents as well. The difference is that he was impeached and throne out of office

    Your argument is mostly there, but Nixon was neither impeached nor thrown from office. He resigned to avoid either of those.

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  13. TheContrarian

    Indeed, my brain is a bit fuzzy at 1 am. He was certain to be impeached, but he did resign before it happened. Effectively his bullying cost him his office, as it should whoever turns out to be behind this current fiasco.

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  14. salinger

    Seeing as the head cheese at the time was Douglas Shulman – appointed by Bush – what are the chances that this was a behind the scenes Republican effort to marginalize the Tea Partiers? Rove and the boys don’t seem to have much use for them.

    Even so, I’m betting this was just a fucked up attempt at triage to handle the avalanche of new groups applying for tax exempt status after the Citizens United ruling – but one never knows. This will be interesting to follow.

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  15. Dave D

    Stewart can actually be funny when he’s not slaying striclty conservative sacred cows. If he was more balanced/did this more often, I might even want to watch his show.

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