Compilation of the IRS’s actions in its targeting of conservatives
In May 2013, the Washington Post reported that the IRS had illegally targeted conservative groups for additional reviews. Organizations with the words “tea party” or “patriot” were singled out for harassment, such as requiring them to provide a list of donors, details about their internet postings on social networking websites, and information about their family members.
When this was first reported by the media in May 2013, Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that had conducted these illegal activities, claimed that only low level employees had known about it, and that no high level IRS officials had known about it. However, soon afterward, NPR reported that an Inspector General report showed that Lerner had been lying, and that she herself had actually been aware of it since June 29, 2011. Even worse, in March of 2012, Lerner herself had written such a letter to American Patriots Against Government Excess, a conservative group. Lerner’s letter can be read here.
The Washington Post reported that IRS officials at the IRS headquarters in Washington D.C. had sent such letters to conservatives groups. Reuters reported that higher level IRS officials had taken part in discussions about it as early as August 2011. However, 21 months later, on May 10, 2013, the Washington Post reported that President Obama had not done anything to investigate or fire the IRS employees who had engaged in this illegal harassment. As of May 14, 2013, none of the IRS employees who engaged in any of this illegal behavior had been disciplined, despite the fact that higher level IRS officials had known about their illegal behavior at least since August 2011.
On May 15, 2013, it was reported that Steven Miller, the acting IRS commissioner, had resigned. However, it was also reported that his assignment would have ended in early June anyway. He resigned – Obama did not fire him.
The IRS gave out confidential information about conservative groups. ProPublica wrote:
“The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.”
“In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public.”
“No unapproved applications from liberal groups were sent to ProPublica.”
President Obama either lied about when he first knew about this – or was too busy playing golf and attending fundraisers to read the memos that were sent to him. The Daily Caller wrote:
“White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a press conference Tuesday that the White House was notified about the IRS targeting tea party groups ‘several weeks ago.’ This comes a day after President Obama said he found out about it from news reports on Friday of last week.”
“During a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday, President Obama was asked about the IRS scandal. He responded, ‘I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this. I think it was on Friday.’ “
“However, Carney said Tuesday that first a report had to be compiled by the IRS’s inspector general and then when it was completed, it was passed on to the administration.”
“‘A notification is appropriate and routine and that is what happened and that happened several weeks ago,’ Carney said.”
When Media Trackers, a conservative organization, applied to the IRS for non-profit status, after waiting 16 months, it got no response. But when it reapplied with a liberal sounding name, it got approval in just three weeks. Yahoo wrote:
“In May 2011, Drew Ryun, a conservative activist and former Republican National Committee staffer, began filling out the Internal Revenue Service application to achieve nonprofit status for a new conservative watchdog group.”
“When September 2012 arrived with still no word from the IRS, Ryun determined that Media Trackers would likely never obtain standalone nonprofit status, and he tried a new approach: He applied for permanent nonprofit status for a separate group called Greenhouse Solutions, a pre-existing organization that was reaching the end of its determination period.”
“The IRS approved Greenhouse Solutions’ request for permanent nonprofit status in three weeks.”
Regarding how the IRS treated one of President Obama’s relatives, the Dailer Caller wrote:
“Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official at the center of the decision to target tea party groups for burdensome tax scrutiny, signed paperwork granting tax-exempt status to the Barack H. Obama Foundation, a shady charity headed by the president’s half-brother that operated illegally for years.”
“According to the organization’s filings, Lerner approved the foundation’s tax status within a month of filing, an unprecedented timeline that stands in stark contrast to conservative organizations that have been waiting for more than three years, in some cases, for approval.”
“Lerner also appears to have broken with the norms of tax-exemption approval by granting retroactive tax-exempt status to Malik Obama’s organization.”
“The same Internal Revenue Service office that singled out Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny also challenged Israel-related organizations, at least one of which filed suit over the agency’s handling of its application for tax-exempt status.”
“The trouble for the Israel-focused groups seems to have had different origins than that experienced by conservative groups, but at times the effort seems to have been equally ham-handed.”
The IRS asked conservative groups what books they were reading.
Although the IRS went 18 months or longer without responding to conservative organizations’ applications, the IRS demanded that these same organizations answer the IRS’s intrusive questions within a few weeks.
After the Waco Tea Party sent an application to the IRS, the IRS waited 19 months to respond. In its response, the IRS asked for printouts of its web page and social networking sites, copies of all of its newsletters, bulletins and fliers, and copies of all stories written about it. The IRS also asked for transcripts of its radio interviews.
As one example of how the IRS treated conservative organizations differently from liberal ones, Politico reported:
“Chris Littleton, one of the co-founders of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, said the group got a grilling from the IRS when it submitted its application, in letters the group has posted on its website. The IRS also gave him so much grief when he tried to apply for tax-exempt status for another group, American Junto, that ‘we just gave up on it,’ he said.”
“But when he submitted an application for a third group — Ohioans for Health Care Freedom, now renamed Ohio Rising — ‘it went through just fine,’ Littleton said. ‘They never asked a single set of questions.'”
After the Greater Phoenix Tea Party Patriots sent in their application, it took two years for the IRS to respond. The IRS response included 35 questions. When the group’s cofounder called the IRS, the IRS agent claimed that he had their group’s file right in front of him. But when the group’s confounder asked the IRS agent a question, the IRS agent asked, “What’s your group’s name again?”
Tea Party groups who spoke with each other said they were all getting the same questions from the IRS.
The Washington Post reported that some IRS employees were “ignorant about tax laws, defiant of their supervisors, and blind to the appearance of impropriety.”
In 2012, the IRS leaked confidential information about Mitt Romney to the co-chairman of President Obama’s re-election committee.
For a 27 month period that began in February 2010, the IRS gave exactly zero approvals to Tea Party organizations that had sent in applications. During that same time period, numerous liberal organizations with names including words such as “progress” or “progressive” did get approval.
In May 2013, U.S. News & World Report wrote:
“Over the last three years, Democratic senators repeatedly and publicly pressured the IRS to engage in the very activities that they are only now condemning today. At the same time, Republicans repeatedly and publicly warned against this abuse of government power and pointed to a series of red flags that strongly suggested conservative political organizations were being targeted by the IRS. Those warnings were deliberately ignored by the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress.”
“From Max Baucus to Chuck Schumer to Jeanne Shaheen, key Senate Democrats publicly pressured the IRS to target groups that held differing political views and who, in their view, had the temerity to engage in the political process. The IRS listened to them and acted.”
The IRS also treated conservative and liberal groups differently on the issue of abortion. The Washington Examiner reported:
IRS officials refused to grant tax exempt status two pro-life organizations because of their position on the abortion issue, according to a non-profit law firm, which said that one group was pressured not to protest a pro-choice organization that endorsed President Obama during the last election.
“In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent ‘Ms. Richards’ told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” the Thomas More Society announced today. “Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved.”
The IRS also pressured another pro-life group about its religious activities. “The IRS withheld approval of an application for charitable tax-exempt recognition of Christian Voices for Life, questioning the group’s involvement with ’40 Days for Life’ and ‘Life Chain’ events,” according to the law firm. “The Fort Bend County, Texas, organization was subjected to repeated and lengthy unconstitutional requests for information about the viewpoint and content of its educational communications, volunteer prayer vigils, and other protected activities.”
Jon Stewart said of this:
“Well, congratulations, President Barack Obama. Conspiracy theorists who generally can survive in anaerobic environments have just had an algae bloom dropped on their f***ing heads, thus removing the last arrow in your pro-governance quiver: skepticism about your opponents.”
During Congressional testimony that had taken place in March 2012, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman falsely said that the IRS had not targeted conservative groups.
Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, said of this:
“Even the appearance of playing partisan politics with the tax code is about as constitutionally troubling as it gets. With the recent push to grant federal agencies broad new powers to mandate donor disclosure for advocacy groups on both the left and the right, there must be clear checks in place to prevent this from ever happening again.”
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