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View Diary: Groups targeted by IRS pushed political activity boundaries (135 comments)

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  •  Here's the problem (2+ / 0-)
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    johnny wurster, Tuscarora

    If the IRS applied extra scrutiny across the board to such organisations, regardless of political affiliation, that would be OK. Or if they have specific, credible evidence that an organisation is engaging in disallowed activity, extra scrutiny would also be appropriate.

    What the IRS can't do, and has admitted to doing, is targeting certain groups simply because of their political affiliation, apparently based on, among other things, their name. You absolutely can't do that. It's huge no-no, which is why the President rightly came out so strongly on this issue. Just because some of these groups may have "pushed the boundaries" doesn't make the initial targeting of them any more appropriate. The law has to be applied neutrally, without regard to political affiliation.

    Now, perhaps a case can be made that ALL these groups deserve stricter scrutiny, and perhaps the laws need to be tightened up regarding the activities of such groups. But that doesn't excuse what the IRS did in this case.

    Black Holes Suck.

    by Pi Li on Tue May 28, 2013 at 03:10:42 PM PDT

    •  No (1+ / 0-)
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      VeloDramatic

      Giving extra scrutiny to Tea Party groups is not "targeting certain groups simply because of their political affiliation."  They chose the name, and the name clearly indicated that they were engaged in political activity.  It was irrelevant whether that activity was conservative;  the simple fact is that the brand clearly indicated political activity.

      "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

      by Old Left Good Left on Tue May 28, 2013 at 04:35:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hmmmm (0+ / 0-)

        Well, the IG's report, the President, most members of Congress (who have spoken out on this issue) and the IRS itself would seem to disagree with you.

        And I'm not sure where you get the idea that such groups cannot engage in "political activity". They certainly can under the law as it is currently interpreted and enforced.

        Black Holes Suck.

        by Pi Li on Tue May 28, 2013 at 04:41:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They can't engage in ELECTIONEERING activity (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VeloDramatic

          defined as advocating directly for or against specific candidates in a specific race.  If there is reason to believe they plan to do so, whether by name or by pattern of activity, they merit a closer look.  
           

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Tue May 28, 2013 at 05:23:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes and No (2+ / 0-)
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            lgmcp, Tuscarora

            If there's credible information that they are engaging in activity inconsistent with the law...and electioneering would certainly quality...you're quite correct they'd warrant extra scrutiny.

            But having the words "Tea Party" (or similar terms) in your name, alone, isn't sufficient reason to warrant extra scrutiny...or flag them for such.  That's apparently what happened here, and that's what the IG, the President, lawmakers from both parties have described as inappropriate and unacceptable.  So, no, the name alone doesn't merit a "closer look."  In fact, it's basically unconstitutional.

            In fact, the name of the organisation could be "Tea Party Patriots Committed to repealing the 14th Amendment and elimination all taxes and returning the country to conservative principles" and even then, applying extra scrutiny using that name alone as justification would be impermissible.

            Black Holes Suck.

            by Pi Li on Tue May 28, 2013 at 05:31:48 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Really (3+ / 0-)
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              lgmcp, VeloDramatic, Laconic Lib

              What part of the Constitution forbids taking into account a name?  Are you suggesting that the FBI cannot take a closer look at the Friends of Al-Qaeda?

               

              "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

              by Old Left Good Left on Tue May 28, 2013 at 05:39:06 PM PDT

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              •  The 1st Amendment (0+ / 0-)

                Crikey, even the ACLU called the practice unconstitutional. It's a basic tenant of our democracy that you're not singled out based on your political beliefs.

                Look, if the IRS wants to decide that all these 501c's deserve extra scrutiny, more power to them.  I think most of these groups, on the left and right, are a blight, skirt the law and don't operate under the spirit of the statute. But they have to apply the extra scrutiny neutrally, across the board, without regard to political affiliation...or even the appearance that they're doing it with regard to political affiliation. It doesn't matter that you, or even the IRS, may think it's the Tea Party groups that are the ones doing most of the violating...you just can't go there, even if it may make practical sense.

                Let me give you a not so perfect, but apt analogy. If the police decide to give extra scrutiny to black and brown drivers, and pull them over based on their race alone...would it matter if in a subsequent search of their vehicle they found drugs? Would that make it OK? Would it be OK to search everyone of Middle Eastern descent who boards a plane, because the FBI thinks that's who the terrorists are? Of course not. It may make for effective and efficient law enforcement (or not), but in any event such profiling is impressible.

                Black Holes Suck.

                by Pi Li on Tue May 28, 2013 at 05:50:54 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  A name is not a political belief (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  MissTrial

                  If you want to claim that they were singled out for their political beliefs, that is one thing. But it is not the case here.  They were singled out for their names--which they chose, and which clearly conveyed that they were likely to be engaging in electoral politics, thus warranting heightened scrutiny to determine if such activiity was their primary activity.

                  And again, I reserve the right to exercise my judgment--so I don't really care what the ACLU said.

                  Your analogies are flawed.  The correct analogy is whether a traffic stop would be justified  of a car with a bumper sticker that says "Hey officer--there is a greater than 80% chance that there's a brick of hashish in my trunk."

                  Sorry, but it ain't profiling to take a close look at a group that advertises by its name its natue.

                  "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

                  by Old Left Good Left on Tue May 28, 2013 at 06:04:27 PM PDT

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                  •  Fair enough (0+ / 0-)

                    Disagreeing and exercising your own judgement on this matter is certainly your right.

                    Black Holes Suck.

                    by Pi Li on Tue May 28, 2013 at 06:07:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  And BTW (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    lgmcp

                    Your bumper sticker analogy is incorrect. The groups in question were singled out because they had words like "Tea Party" and "Patriot" in them...not "Re-Elect Michelle Bachman".

                    A more apt analogy, re: the bumper sticker, would be a bumper sticker that said "Legalise Pot Now." I'm assuming you don't think such a sticker would warrant that car being stopped.

                    Black Holes Suck.

                    by Pi Li on Tue May 28, 2013 at 06:09:53 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Nope (0+ / 0-)

                      The IG report, for example, concluded that more than 80% of the Tea Party groups applying for 501(c)(4) status warranted additional scrutiny.  So try reading my comment again.

                      "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

                      by Old Left Good Left on Tue May 28, 2013 at 06:54:40 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Again, missing the point (0+ / 0-)

                        It's interesting that you quote the IG's report for your own ends, but ignore the conclusions of the report. It's not question of whether it was discovered that they warranted additional scrutiny. It's about the criteria they used to flag these groups in the first place. What's so hard to understand about this?

                        The issue is singling them out using key words in their name as criteria. That's the thing people (not you) have an issue with. The fact that it was later determined that they warranted "additional scrutiny" is irrelevant, and doesn't excuse the IRS's initial impermissible, and unconstitutional, actions.

                        Had the IRS received specific information that X group was engaged in questionable activity, then it would be permissible, and appropriate, to investigate THAT GROUP. But that's not what we're talking about here.

                        To go back to your bumper sticker analogy. Suppose the police pulled over every car that said "Legalise Pot Now", because they thought, well, those people must be carrying pot. And later they discovered that 80% of the cars they pulled over had either pot or drug paraphernalia...would that have made pulling those cars over, based solely on their bumper sticker, OK? Of course not.

                        Look, I understand that you disagree...but I have to tell you, your understanding of the law, the constitution, and the facts, is wrong. If a group calls itself "Tea Party", and the government singles them out based on that alone alone, that's a constitutional violation. The government just CANNOT discriminate that way, it has to apply the law equally. It doesn't matter what they think other tea party groups are doing. If you can't see that, I don't know what to say to you. And it's not just me saying that, as I've pointed out.

                        Anyway, we're not going to agree, so I'll leave it that. If you'd like you can have the last word.

                        Black Holes Suck.

                        by Pi Li on Tue May 28, 2013 at 07:14:48 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Tell you what (0+ / 0-)

                          The way one determines what the law is by citing a case.  Go ahead--cite a single case that says that the IRS cannot take into account the name of an organization in determining whether to examine it.  Because so far no one has done so--instead, you toss up stupid analogies to racial profiling.

                           

                          "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

                          by Old Left Good Left on Tue May 28, 2013 at 07:32:33 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  And also (0+ / 0-)

                          Go ahead and indicate what fact I got wrong.

                          "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

                          by Old Left Good Left on Tue May 28, 2013 at 07:34:08 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

            •  How about "Committee to Re-elect the President"? (0+ / 0-)

              Is THAT a name that in and of itself might merit closer scrutiny?  

              "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

              by lgmcp on Tue May 28, 2013 at 05:50:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  And they're wrong (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VeloDramatic

          I didn't say the couldn't engage in political activity, but doing so should clearly be a trigger for heightened scrutiny of applcants for 501(c)(4) status to make sure it is not their primary activity.

          The IG's report assumed that selecting Tea Party groups for heightened scrutiny based on their name was improper, but cited nothing in support of that assumption.  In fact, according to the IG, more than 80% of the Tea Party groups warranted heightened scrutiny.  Among the other groups that were subjected to heightened scrutiny, less than two-thirds warranted it.  What that tells me is that selecting groups with Tea Party in their name was a highly effective way of identifying the right applications to examine more carefully.

          And who the fuck cares what Congressmen think?  I'm supposed to defer to Darrell Issa?

          And, quite frankly, Obama blew it.

          "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation..."--David St. Hubbins

          by Old Left Good Left on Tue May 28, 2013 at 05:36:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Lol (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny wurster

        Good to know you have such a good grasp of the facts. Then again, why let the facts get in the way of defending the actions of the IRS since they're going after the bad guys.

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