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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, joins the Senate GOP leadership during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 23, 2013, to criticize the FAA's plan to furlough air traffic controllers because of forced budget cuts.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Look who else joined the pack of howling Senators bashing the IRS and President Obama for political gain:

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Sunday called the Internal Revenue Service’s singling out of conservative groups for extra scrutiny “absolutely chilling” and called on President Obama to condemn the effort.

“This is truly outrageous and it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government,” Collins, a moderate Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review, and I think it’s very disappointing that the president hasn’t personally condemned this and spoken out.”

The IRS apologized Friday for flagging groups seeking tax-exempt status with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names for extra attention. The official who oversees tax-exempt groups at the agency said the effort was not motivated by partisanship. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama was “concerned” about the reported behavior “of a small number” of IRS employees.

“[Obama's] spokesman has said it should be investigated, but the president needs to make crystal clear that this is totally unacceptable in America,” Collins said. - Washington Post, 5/12/13

Sign.  Ok, AlterNet had a story today that makes this story look insanely stupid and miniscule by comparison:

Republicans, as usual, are in a tizzy over what they say is a big scandal brewing at the Internal Revenue Service, because on Friday, Lois Lerner, the lawyer in charge of the department that reviews applications for tax-exempt organizations, said that the IRS had improperly  flagged and scrutinized applications by ‘Tea Party’ and ‘Patriot’ groups.

The problem with this latest dust-up is that GOP outrage over the small but obvious stuff misses the real issues and bigger points. First, Lerner’s testimony— read it—says that her office discovered and tried to correct this. Moreover, does anybody really think that Tea Party chapters were not overt political creatures? They weren’t created to sell cookies.

The real scandal is that Lerner’s disclosure and apology, conveyed at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing Friday, ignores that the agency has not taken any meaningful decisions on the big political fish who hide behind this tax non-profit ruse and hide their donor’s names, notably Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.

Rove’s group spent more than  $70 million on political ads in 2012. Its application to be a social-welfare organization is pending before the IRS—more than two years after it was filed. There are many forms of non-profits, but those at issue here, so-called C-4s, don’t pay taxes or disclose donor names.

The Tea Partiers are political little leaguers. Perhaps their best-known brethren in 2012, “TrueTheVote,” tried to recruit and train volunteers to challenge the credentials of black and brown voters in Democratic strongholds in swing states. They were so sloppy and offensive that election officials in Ohio and Wisconsin barred them from going near voting sites during the November 2012 presidential vote.

But Karl Rove is not a political rookie. He pioneered the latest dark money strategy by creating a major political organization that masqueraded as a social-welfare group just by filing a tax-exempt application. Other GOP political consultants, and then top Democrats, including the Obama campaign’s top allies, and 100s of others all  followed suit.

Longtime Washington campaign finance groups have been crying ‘foul’ for years,  urging the IRS to issue rulings on the prolifieration of the C-4 ‘dark money’ groups. The fact that the IRS still  has not ruled on Rove’s group will not be helped by this latest scandal, as the agency will now be in ‘damage-control’ mode and will be even more cautious. - AlterNet, 5/13/13

Now I don't know if Collins is vulnerable to Tea Party challenger just yet but I don't doubt that her attacking President Obama like this is her way to get in good with the more conservative voters in her party.  She rained on their parade when she said there's nothing impeachable about Benghazi to Candy Crowley before the 2012 election was over:

“I don’t, at this point, I will say,” Sen. Collins replied, but didn’t leave it there.

“That doesn’t mean that these allegations aren’t serious,” she continued. “Joe Lieberman and I did a preliminary investigation into the events into the attacks on Benghazi last fall, and we had a career CIA agent, who was the woman who first drafted the very first talking points, tell us that there was no national security reason for the line about the links to al Qaeda to have been dropped from the talking points. So clearly, politics was at play here.”

“If that is so,” Crowley said, “is it not a cover-up on a scale of — I mean, why do you think they would do this? Do you think it was to help the President get reelected?”

“I believe that because we were in the midst of the final weeks of a very contentious presidential re-election campaign, that one of the themes of this administration was that Libya was a success, that the military intervention had produced a stable pro-United States country that was moving toward democracy, and that al Qaeda was on the run. And what happened in Benghazi proved that neither of those narratives was accurate.”

Whatever the reasons for the revisions to the talking points, however, Collins’ claim is undercut by the fact that the President repeatedly referred to the attacks as an “act of terror” in the days following the attacks, and Amb. Susan Rice talked, specifically about al Qaeda and Ansar al Sharia, during her Sunday news show interviews. - Mediaite, 5/12/13

That's my two cents.  

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