Johnny Carson once said that IRS stands for “It Really Sucks”. Apparently, this is particularly the case if you happen to belong to, support or want to start any organization with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in the name.
Just days after President Obama warned the graduating class at The Ohio State University about the “voices” they hear that cast the government as a “sinister entity”, the news broke that the IRS (some people consider this a sinister entity) was targeting many grassroots patriot groups for extra scrutiny. Obama told the newly-minted grads: “They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking [sic] just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”
On Friday, it came out that conservative groups who were applying for tax-exempt status were unfairly singled out including the Tea Party, the 9-12 Project and any groups that “criticize how the country is being run” and that were involved in educating Americans “on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Groups opposing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and some pro-Israel groups were also targeted.
The Jewish group Z Street currently has a lawsuit against the IRS that goes back to 2010 claiming that one of its attorneys was told its application for tax exemption was delayed and sent to a “special unit…to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.” The IRS denies that charge, saying that the issue was whether the groups might violate “public policy”. Meaning, the government doesn’t want to grant tax exempt status to individuals or organizations that may be involved in illegal activity such as terrorism, or that may be involved in racial discrimination. It’s scary that a government agency would flag an organization that is pro-Israel in this way, when Israel is often the target of terrorists and Jews the target of discrimination.
Z Street and other Jewish organizations report getting some very invasive and inappropriate questions from the IRS, including questions about whether they support the existence of the land of Israel and what their “religious belief system” is towards the land of Israel.
Conservative groups have made the same claim about extensive questioning and of being asked for all kinds of documentation the IRS has absolutely no right to have, including lists of donors, all Facebook postings and other social media activity, and even what books members were reading! The list of 55 questions received by the Richmond (VA) Tea Party group is enough to keep any small organization busy for quite a while, but as with the other groups that were targeted, they usually were only given a minimal amount of time to get the information back to the IRS. Some tea party leaders say the constant requests for more information and the lack of response when they would call to follow-up with the IRS was dragging out the process. Some groups waited 18 months or longer for confirmation of their approval for tax-exempt status, and others just gave up altogether. Meanwhile, liberal groups seeking the exact same status with “progress” or “progressive” in their names skated through the process in as little as 9 months during the same time period.
Senate Democrats were quick to denounce the IRS intimidation of conservative groups. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana called the actions “an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust.” However, the outrage of Senator Baucus and other democrats may just be a move to cover their behinds as they hope and pray that their voters don’t see this article from The New York Times from October of 2010. This is the same Max Baucus who pressured the IRS to investigate conservative organizations because they were concerned about their influence on political campaigns. According to the article, Republicans at the time were uneasy about the possible misuse of the IRS to audit conservative groups but “Democrats dismissed the Republicans’ complaints as groundless”. So, Senator Baucus was for these IRS activities before he was against them.
What about the president? Like he has said during past scandals and crises, he just found out about all this last Friday when he heard news reports, just like everyone else. But his Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted the administration has known about the IRS scandal since April 22nd. Are we supposed to believe that the President of the United States finds out everything the same as everyone else and that he never talks to his press secretary? Given what I’ve written here, I don’t believe they just found out about it on April 22nd either.
If this scandal isn’t enough, there’s still the one concerning the terrorist attacks on 9-11-12 in Benghazi that killed a U.S. ambassador and others…and then there’s the one where the Justice Department seized phone records of several Associated Press reporters…and now something is coming out about the Environmental Protection Agency being caught up in it’s own targeting of conservative groups that request information from them.
We can all certainly take comfort in knowing that it will be the IRS in charge of enforcing Obamacare beginning next year, and that the person in charge of the IRS tax-exempt division when it was targeting conservatives is now in charge of the health care office. Imagine all that very personal information about every American at their fingertips…the possibilities are endless.
“Experience hath shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
― Thomas Jefferson