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IRS Seal
Washington Post:
Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.

IRS employees in Cincinnati told conservatives seeking the status of “social welfare” groups that a task force in Washington was overseeing their applications, according to interviews with the activists.

In isolation, there doesn't seem anything particularly interesting about the IRS conducting a review of an application for tax-exempt non-profit status. After all, enforcement and compliance is part of their job. The question is whether it was linked to politically motivated targeting that took place in Cincinnati.

According to the groups that spoke to the Post, there was a link, but assuming they are right, it doesn't explain why the link was made. It's certainly possible that the explanation is that Washington was participating in Cincinnati's targeting. That would be disturbing, but it's also possible that when Washington worked to end what was happening in Cincinnati, they absorbed the investigative process. And, of course, it's also possible that the groups are wrong to make the link.

Even if Washington and Cincinnati were in cahoots, however, it wouldn't a smoking gun implicating the president. As The Post notes, the administration is forbidden by law from getting involved in IRS tax investigations and the agency only has two political appointments. The director during the time of the targeting was a Bush appointee.

Both Democrats and Republicans are calling for an investigation of what happened, though Republicans appear more interested in making it a political issue than Democrats. The Republican Governors' Association, for example, called on the president to name a special prosecutor.

I'm sure this won't happen, but hopefully Congressional investigators will remember the reason the IRS is involved in investigating these groups in the first place is that under current law, the IRS—not the Federal Elections Commission—is responsible for regulating these groups. There's no justification for targeting them on the basis of political affiliation, but on the other hand, it's not like the IRS should abdicate its responsibility to enforce the law.

I'm sure conservatives would love a scenario where the IRS simply rubber-stamped the tax-exempt status applications of every conservative group, but if the IRS did that, what would the point be of having laws in the first place? Moreover, the idea that conservatives are the only groups that have ever been singled out is ridiculous—liberals were targeted for political reasons during the Bush years.

Bottom-line: This is a serious issue, but if conservatives approach it as a partisan game, it'll turn into another Benghazi probe, and quickly.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Still not clear limited to conservative groups (5+ / 0-)

    There is still some buzz that heightened scrutiny of political groups included flag words for other groups, such as "progressive" and "liberal".  If so, this controversy immediately goes away.  

    Trust-Fund Kids of America Unite... save the Bush tax cuts!

    by JCPOK on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:34:22 AM PDT

    •  Goes Away? (5+ / 0-)

      Dream on. If reason and right were involved, Benghazi would have dissolved in a puff of smoke months ago.

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

      by TerryDarc on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:42:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just heard Ben Wisner, ACLU Attorney, on XM radio. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc

        From the ACLU website:

        Home › Technology and Liberty

        Justice Department Secretly Subpoenas AP Phone Records

        May 13, 2013

        FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
        CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

        NEW YORK – The Department of Justice secretly obtained two months' worth of phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors, according to an AP story.

        The following statement can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office:

        "The media's purpose is to keep the public informed and it should be free to do so without the threat of unwarranted surveillance. The Attorney General must explain the Justice Department's actions to the public so that we can make sure this kind of press intimidation does not happen again."

        The following statement can be attributed to Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project:

        "Obtaining a broad range of telephone records in order to ferret out a government leaker is an unacceptable abuse of power. Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy, and that freedom often depends on confidential communications between reporters and their sources."

        Mollie

        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


        hiddennplainsight

        by musiccitymollie on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:38:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Folks might want to tune in to Press Secretary (0+ / 0-)

          Jay Carney's Press Briefing, which starts shortly (noon).

          The RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, just called for Attorney General Holder's resignation (which won't go anywhere, but their will probably be a question or two regarding this).

          Mollie

          "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


          hiddennplainsight

          by musiccitymollie on Tue May 14, 2013 at 10:07:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I Suppose Proressives Were Anti Tax Too (7+ / 0-)

      and anti government. LOL.  The truth is that progressive groups are not above being scrutinized too.  I believe the IRS was just doing their jobs because who would believe that anti tax, anti government groups would try to cheat on their taxes?  Almost everyone.

      "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

      by rssrai on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:03:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I Mean Progressives (Typo) (0+ / 0-)

        I don't want to be banned.

        "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

        by rssrai on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:07:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  But the WaPo story makes it sound like (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rschndr, wishingwell, auapplemac, llywrch

        ONLY conservative groups were subject to extra scrutiny.  There is no reason to believe high-profile liberal groups weren't also included in the scrutinized applications, just maybe not with specific keywords.  I wish everyone would just shut up about this until the IG's report is made public.

        Of course I wish I could win the lottery too.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:33:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But when they "apologized" this is what they said: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          auapplemac

          http://www.nytimes.com/...

          Lois Lerner, the director of the I.R.S. division that oversees tax-exempt groups, acknowledged that the agency had singled out nonprofit applicants with the terms “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their titles in an effort to respond to a surge in applications for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012.

          She insisted that the move was not driven by politics, but she added, “We made some mistakes; some people didn’t use good judgment.”

          If they were doing it to other groups, they needed to keep their big mouth closed with a freaking apology (duh!) before an investigation even happened and/or they should have made it known right then that other groups were targeted as well.

          I still can't get over that the came on cameras and apologized!  WTH?!?

      •  On the other hand, why would (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rschndr

        those seeking to cheat on their taxes say it out loud? Usually those kinds of people hide behind innocuous sounding names like "Americans for a Brighter Future" ...

        I would think the job of the IRS would be to follow the money, maybe scrutinize groups with larger funding streams rather than those with "political" names....or better yet, look at ones that appear to benefit specific industries rather than social welfare...

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:36:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I don't get either the outrage or the fear (0+ / 0-)

        on this one.  If entities with names like "Republican Outreach"The Democratic Caretakers" that were not actually affiliated with the Republicans or Dems were filing for nonprofit status, I suspect they might be looked at a bit more carefully, too.  Scams abound in the nonprofit area.  People are willing to whip out their wallets when they hear a phrase that appeals to them emotionally.  For someone to use the term teaparty in their title would be an Excellent way to scam money out of rightwingers.  They're the ones being protected, for god's sake.  What the hell was wrong with the IRS targeting a name that was clearly suspicious under the circumstances at that time????

        "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

        by gustynpip on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:06:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The language used according to a Reuters report: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Willa Rogers

        According to Reuters, they were giving extra scrutiny for applications from groups focused on making "America a better place to live."

        That could apply to a fairly broad swath of groups, couldn't it?  

        I believe that the broader the application was, the more likely that serious investigations will ensue.  Please check out the piece below.

        IRS Kept Shifting Targets in Tax-Exempt Groups Scrutiny: Report

        By Kevin Drawbaugh and Kim Dixon | Reuters

        WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When tax agents started singling out non-profit groups for extra scrutiny in 2010, they looked at first only for key words such as 'Tea Party,' but later they focused on criticisms by groups of "how the country is being run," according to investigative findings reviewed by Reuters on Sunday.

        Over two years, IRS field office agents repeatedly changed their criteria while sifting through thousands of applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status to select ones for possible closer examination, the findings showed.

        At one point, the agents chose to screen applications from groups focused on making "America a better place to live."

        Exactly who at the IRS made the decisions to start applying extra scrutiny was not clear from the findings, which were contained in portions of an investigative report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

        Expected to be made public this week, the report was obtained in part by Reuters over the weekend as a full-blown scandal involving the IRS scrutiny widened, embarrassing the agency and distracting the Obama administration.

        In one part of the report, TIGTA officials observed that the application screening effort showed "confusion about how to process the applications, delays in the processing of the applications, and a lack of management oversight and guidance." . . .

        Mollie

        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


        hiddennplainsight

        by musiccitymollie on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:11:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Goes away? Nope. (0+ / 0-)

      One thing I'll give Washington.  This method is more humane than исправительно-трудовые лагеря or Konzentrationslager.  Your political enemies are wounded, and nary a scar in sight.

      Now all the IRS (and maybe the admin, too) needs is a new slogan.  Steuern macht frei, perhaps?

      A wise man hears one word and understands two.

      by Not A Bot on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:36:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This does not help (4+ / 0-)

    Makes Dkos look as if it is burying its head in the sand at best.

    •  Huh? (11+ / 0-)

      Burying its head in the sand? You mean by not frothing at the mouth in time to Fox News music?

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

      by TerryDarc on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:43:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  How so? (14+ / 0-)

      Actually, in some respects, I think the story goes too far.

      Here's the thing:  the IRS saw an explosion of new anti-tax movements, a high volume of applications from groups seeking tax exempt status under 501(c)4, a widely abused provision of the IRC.

      The IRS heightened its scrutiny of these applications. Just as it did with new charities that popped up after Hurricane Katrina to prevent fraudsters and abuse by people trying to use that tragedy for personal gain. And with "investment clubs" that popped up in the late 1990s - did they have a legitimate purpose, or were they vehicles for brokers to hide income? And with new environmental groups back in the 1980s and 1990s: legitimate educational purpose or political lobbying group?

      Heightened scrutiny is an ongoing process in the IRS. It can happen in response to certain trends or circumstances, or in response to audit findings, or in response to information gleaned from fraud investigations.

      So, I don't know that Jed's characterization of the Cincinnati office's activities were"politically motivated targeting" is fair. The heightened scrutiny may have been perfectly legitimate in response to the high volume and nature of these applications.

      Now, having said that, I do think the IRS screwed up here - they should have been more transparent and open in their communication of this heightened scrutiny back when it began. What may have been a legitimate scrutiny looks bad because the IRS handled it badly.

      But, I don't think Jed is refusing to acknowledge the situation, and he is calling for a fact-based investigation. Let the investigation happen, then act accordingly.

      Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

      by absdoggy on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:53:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "IF" conservative groups approach it as partisan (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Batya the Toon

        game?  That's like saying "if" the sun sets in the west this evening, or "if" the polar ice caps will undergo serious melting this summer.

        The diary was fine otherwise, but the final sentence was an utter misapprehension of political reality.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:03:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

        But, I don't think Jed is refusing to acknowledge the situation, and he is calling for a fact-based investigation. Let the investigation happen, then act accordingly.

        For Pete's Sake, if there is no wrongdoing here, then there is nothing to worry about.

        It's better to look like you're (the Administration) cooperating, than to appear to be 'on the defensive,' as though there is something to hide.

        As Reuters has already pointed out, they did appear to be targeting a very broad swath of applications.  It will work itself out, I feel sure.

        Mollie

        "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


        hiddennplainsight

        by musiccitymollie on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:18:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  At any one time you are going to find multiple (0+ / 0-)

      sandy ears at Dkos. Some issues have more sandy ears than others.

      Validate my parking Validate my parenting Validate my politics Validate my religion And I will be happy.

      by 88kathy on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:13:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Incredible (9+ / 0-)

    Seems that the GOP presidents get away with regular harassment of Dem groups with little or no noise.  If the show is on the other foot though, they whine loudly.  You mean to say this never happened under Nixon, Reagan, or the Bushies?  Yeah right.

    •  oops (0+ / 0-)

      meant to say shoe, not show.  i needs my caffeine.

      •  Show was exactly right (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DocGonzo

        You nailed it subconsciously... you are in the the zone today, Q5!

        What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

        by TerryDarc on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:45:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know. (0+ / 0-)

      There was fallout over the Bush attorney things.

      Nobody went to jail or anything but part of the reason Abu Gonzales resigned.

    •  It happened under Kennedy/LBJ. As far as I know, (0+ / 0-)

      Carter is really the only President since 1960 with none of this stink on him, although when it comes to Clinton it was mostly just rumors...and getting the IRS to back off friendlies.

      That doesn't make it ok to target or ease up on groups because of political affiliation.

      Either that targeting happened or it didn't.  That's the only relevant question here.

      We know they're hypocrites.  This is about whether or not we are.

      Wash. Judge Tells Cops To Return Man’s Marijuana Or Be Found In Contempt

      by JesseCW on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:00:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Carter (0+ / 0-)

        We remember Carter that way, because none of the allegations against him ever stuck, and because of his exemplary record after leaving office.  If you actually go back and read the media at the time though, it was quite a lot like the present, with fake scandals constantly being manufactured, loud demands for special prosecutors, and the mainstream media happily playing along.

  •  Big question: Whose word is 'conservative'? (4+ / 0-)

    Was it the word used to describe the groups targeted by the IRS, or simply the word being used by the media and the right?

    The vast majority of the groups with 'Tea Party' and 'Patriot' in their names seem to be anti-tax as part of their agenda.

    It makes perfect sense to me that any anti-tax group would get extra scrutiny from the IRS.

    Has it been shown that any of the 'targeted' groups has a 'pro-tax' bent?

    •  Does it make sense that anti-marijuana prohibition (0+ / 0-)

      groups get "extra scrutiny" from the DEA based on their politics?

      IF (and the if is still there) we start discriminating against groups because we don't like their politics, we descend to the level of Nixon.

      Wash. Judge Tells Cops To Return Man’s Marijuana Or Be Found In Contempt

      by JesseCW on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:01:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's a two-fer for the GOP (6+ / 0-)

    1. Pile on as many scandal-accusations as you possibly can onto the Obama Administration, to completely hamstring the 2d term and prepare to take over the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016.
    2. Prevent/deter the IRS from investigating the real issue of political groups masquerading as 501c3 or 501c4s, so that you can do even more of that in the future, with the same goal of taking the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016.

    Bonus points: 3. Fundraise like mad on the narrative that you and your cronies are the beleaguered persecuted martyrs of a socialist mooslim dictator.

  •  The Rude One (7+ / 0-)

    The IRS "Scandal" Isn't a Scandal, But It Will Get Annoying:

    Look, we know how this went down: Post-Citizens United, the Internal Revenue Service was flooded with applications for tax-exempt status for whatever organization a couple of fucksacks with a tricorner hat wanted to start. "Social welfare" groups, they were called, and they could not be involved with specific political candidates or advocacy (although, you know, c'mon). So the IRS told its low-level drones who had to look at all the fucksack applications to flag ones that looked hinky. So the low-level drones, who are overworked to begin with because Congress won't give the IRS the funding it needs to do its fucking job, used some search terms.

    It's 2010 and who are the fucksacks who are everywhere? The "Tea Party" groups. So, sure, fine, let's fuckin' search that. Low-level drone 1 tells low-level drone 2 (and for god's sake, they live in the dull, dull, boring, dull city of Cincinnati, so give 'em a little break), "Hey, just use 'Patriot' as a search term and you'll get your job done faster because if there's one thing we know, it's that a whole bunch of these applications are from crazed fucksacks applying for tax-exempt status because they hate them that black guy in office." Low-level drone 2 might have said, "Oh, shit, that'll get us in trouble." But low-level drone 1 had a convincing argument by saying, "You wanna get to the bar sooner?" By the way, chances are that LLD 1 and LLD 2 have been LLDs forever, under at least one GOP president.

    Help me to be the best Wavy Gravy I can muster

    by BOHICA on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:43:55 AM PDT

  •  The teabaggers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figbash, rschndr, wishingwell

    will certainly make it a political issue--whining that they are being harassed by the gummint is their reason for existence, after all.  

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:44:22 AM PDT

    •  Even Paranoids Have Enemies (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks to the IRS we will now never hear the end of how our tyrannical government tyrannically targets the people who have the nerve to speak out against the IRS.

      For good reason.

      Goddamn IRS.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:16:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Last Word (4+ / 0-)

    made an interesting point about the difference between "exclusively" and "primarily"regarding the IRS. I love me some LO.

    http://tv.msnbc.com/...

    •  It was very cogent (0+ / 0-)

      and it seems to me, this category is subject to considerable abuse and needs to be eliminated, revised or clarified.

      I do not support unfairly targeting any group, but why are we letting a clearly partisan group like the Tea partiers avoid taxes?  

      Don't think we're going to be seeing any food drives at their rallies anytime soon, that is if you can find anyone at their rallies anymore.

       

  •  Question of targeting by IRS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figbash, Faito

    Years ago when working for a business non-profit, a few organizations in the same state were all audited the same year. We couldn't help but wonder if the industry had come onto their radar that they decided to look a more to see if there was a systemic problem.

    While the IRS denies targeting, they may do it.

    This may have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the IRS focusing on specific groups at the same time.

    "We live in hard times, not end times." Jon Stewart

    by Stein on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:45:00 AM PDT

  •  501(c)4 groups are supposed to be NON political (7+ / 0-)

    So, how do Koch-backed Tea Party groups and Karl Rove political groups qualify for tax-exempt status in the first place?   All of the right-wing political groups were actually granted tax-exempt status after supplying more info tot he IRS.  Maybe the Supreme Court could give the Right-Wing Republicans special cart blanc tax-exempt status in a another stupid political decision similar Citizens United.  Maybe that would shut the zealots up.

    •  Citizens United (0+ / 0-)

      dumped a mess into the lap of the IRS.  They've never had oversight of non-profits so closely linked to political and electoral activity.  They need to issue some guidelines to make it easier to oversee this activity.  

      "If you can't take their money, eat their food, drink their booze and then vote against them, you have no business being up there."

      by Betty Pinson on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:56:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Section 501c4 orgs (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rschndr, JesseCW, VClib, DocGonzo, Chas 981

      may engage in political activities so long as it is not their primary purpose.  Very aggressive advisors will take this to 49%... I always recommended something much less.

      The thing is the Koch, Rove et al have good lawyers who know exactly where the line is.  The vast majority are do it yourself copy cats that have no idea, and then cry foul when the IRS tries to enforce the law...

      And this applies to both sides.

  •  Ever heard the term 'over-reach?'......No grownups (5+ / 0-)

    in the GOP......they'll fuck it up.

  •  It's an issue of government competency, and not an (0+ / 0-)

    example of which anyone should be proud.

    "If the past sits in judgment on the present, the future will be lost." Winston Churchill

    by Kvetchnrelease on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:47:11 AM PDT

  •  bedwetters (11+ / 0-)

    Jesus. We call for extra scrutiny of these rightwing political groups and how they get to scam a non-profit status as "social welfare" organizations. Then we find that the IRS has taken a look at them, and liberals start pissing all over themselves before they even know the facts. I'm disgusted.

    They audited the NAACP -- crickets. They audited the Unitarian church -- crickets. They audit ALL KINDS of organizations to make sure they are entitled to non-profit status. Why shouldn't they audit these wacko Tea Party groups? They are political organizations.

    I say, investigate ALL of them. And while they are at it, how about the Catholic Bishops organization and the rightwing fundie churches? How about the Club for Growth? And each one of the GOP Congressmen have "charities" that they funnel political donations. That's how they spread all that political money around. Tom DeLay was the master at "children's charities" which funneled dirty political money around.

    The liberal organizations already know they might be audited, and do it right by setting up separate entities to do political work. Why not make sure these rightwing organizations are doing it right?

    So what was the results of the audits?

  •  You know better (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figbash, JesseCW

    Bottom-line: This is a serious issue, but if conservatives approach it as a partisan game, it'll turn into another Benghazi probe, and quickly.

    C'mon, Jed.  I know you are not naive.  I will give the benefit of the doubt here and assume you are only stating this is a rhetorical device.  

    It is impossible to name one thing that is no longer simply a partisan game for the GOP.  They have zero interest in actually governing.  It is 100% partisan politics, all the time.

  •  I get the part about targeting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flavor411, david78209

    but it seems pretty natural to me that if I were an IRS manager I'd be looking at groups with "tea party" in their name that apply for tax exempt status, too. Tea party groups are by definition political organizations, aren't they? When did they start with "social welfare" activities? They would seem to warrant a special look just for that reason.

    The big problem is the mess that Citizens United and good ol' Karl Rove have created around 501(c)(4) groups. The law that created them is what needs to be targeted and its language must make absolutely clear that these orgs cannot engage in political campaigns in any way, shape or form.

    Does that stand one little, itty-bitty chance of hell of happening? Hell, no.  

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Tue May 14, 2013 at 06:48:33 AM PDT

  •  Proud of the IRS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miggles

    I would be more angry if the IRS avoided looking with more scrutiny on Anti-Tax groups so they don't appear partisan.  Does the FBI avoid investigating Islamic Extremist groups or Right Wing Militia Groups?  Squawk loud enought and set up your operation in a fishy way and you will eventually draw the attention of the Feds.  I am sure that now President Obama has thrown them under the bus, the GOP will enthusiastically support his attempts at greater transparency (BARF)

    Also,  these groups weren't waterboarded or detained.  There is no permanent scar on their record and their applications were all approved.  They are now free to subvert the election process without being bothered by any pesky oversight.

  •  One question I've never seen asked: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DocGonzo

    What are the usual success rates for non-profit investigations, and what were the success rates for the Cincinnati "political" investigation?

    Conservatives lie.  Conservatives cheat.  So I would expect a group to touts its conservatism to lie and cheat, by definition.  Thus . . . were they right?  Is conservatism, especially Teabaggerdom, a legitimate red flag?

  •  I am not necessarily defending the IRS (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rschndr, Pale Jenova, Linda in Ohio

    but, as I understand it, the IRS allegedly subjected these groups to extra scrutiny to ensure that the grant of tax exmept status was warranted, which is probably what we should want the IRS to do to both "liberal" and "conservative" groups (whatever the f*ck those words mean) to ensure that said status isn't granted indiscriminately...Unlike say, during the Bush Administration, when the IRS threatened to revoke the tax exempt status of several groups that were critical of Bush Administration policies  

    So, sorry, I can't get my undies too gathered in a bunch over this story (and that f#cking GMA had Bill O'Reilly on this morning??!!??!! really?!?!?!)  

    Now, the issue with the DOJ and the AP?  That is a big deal...

  •  Were those conservative groups all using the same (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ElaineinIN, rschndr, Deward Hastings

    canned 'script' in their applications?  
    It's possible that ALEC, or some similar group, fed them the language in their applications, just as ALEC supplied model bills for state legislators to introduce.  That's not illegal, but if the practices of some of those conservative groups using a canned application violated IRS rules, it makes sense to take a closer look at all such groups.  Abusive practices may go hand in hand with the script.

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:02:12 AM PDT

    •  Excellent point, but haven't heard of such (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      david78209

      The content of apps will not be made available to the public.  But if there is such a pattern they can talk about it statistically.  Not that it is necessarily wrong, but odd enough to merit extra attention.

      Fun fact: there are about 1,500,000 tax-exempt entities in the US.  Opinion: some toes are just gonna get stepped on.  Also: DAMN! That's a huge task.

      Guns don't kill people like hammers don't pound nails.

      by rschndr on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:19:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem with making such a big deal (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      david78209

      out of extra scrutiny during the application process will make it so much more difficult to investigate whether these groups' activities should result in their charitable status being revoked.  Future IRS investigations should be conducted on whether these groups' activities are conforming to the requirements of their status, but after this it would be understandable if the agency feared the cry of "partisan witch hunt" when agents got around to actually conducting investigations on these groups' activities.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:57:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe we should cook up some lefty groups for the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SueDe

        IRS to hassle, so the IRS can look 'balanced'.  How about clones of ACORN, or using variants on the name.  Maybe Oak Seed, Pecan, Walnut, Almond, Chestnut, Pistachio, Appleseed, ...
        Let each one take about three $10 contributions and spend the money on blatantly partisan stuff.

        We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

        by david78209 on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:36:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rachel had an informative segment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pale Jenova, Chas 981

    about the farce which is this aspect of non-profit regulations.  She also covered the pre-Obama IRS audit of a progressive church.

    The idea is that the IRS should not be used as a political arm of whichever party is in power.

    ...hopefully Congressional investigators will remember the reason the IRS is involved in investigating these groups in the first place is that under current law, the IRS—not the Federal Elections Commission—is responsible for regulating these groups. There's no justification for targeting them on the basis of political affiliation, but on the other hand, it's not like the IRS should abdicate its responsibility to enforce the law.

    When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

    by msmacgyver on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:08:04 AM PDT

  •  The scandal is the targeting. That folks here (0+ / 0-)

    are poo pooing that is hypocritical at best. This isn't an Obama scandal but it is an IRS scandal and the President should make sure some heads roll.

    I wonder if some around here might get their feathers in a ruffle when a Republican is in the WH and the IRS decides to broaden their targeting to anyone registered with a D.

    •  They Did (0+ / 0-)

      In fact Bush went after liberal groups, both with the IRS and with the DOJ (surveillence, infiltration) . Not to mention forcing liberal protesters into "free speech zone" cages while featuring Conservative wankers with unfettered access to the levers of power.

      Which is why this practice must stop, and it will stop only under a Democratic president. "Conservatives" will noisily pin it all on Democrats, but actual changes will delete this relatively small but important tool of tyranny.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:27:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well then (0+ / 0-)
    Moreover, the idea that conservatives are the only groups that have ever been singled out is ridiculous—liberals were targeted for political reasons during the Bush years.
    Then the Democratic Congress should have investigated it.  Instead the Democratic Congress took impeachment off the table and let war criminals go free.  

    Regardless, anytime the IRS uses its power to target any group, it is a serious offense.  

    •  There wasn't a Democratic congress (0+ / 0-)

      during the Bush years.  Democrats took over the Senate the last two years of the Bush administration, but they didn't regain control of the House until 2008.  The Democrats also didn't control the loudest mouths in the press during Bush's terms either.  Even the NYT was in the pockets of the administration back then.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:04:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No (0+ / 0-)

        The Democrats took the House and Senate in 2006.  

      •  My mistake (0+ / 0-)

        There was a Democratic House from 2007 through 2010.  Impeachment is a House responsibility.  The Justice Committee was controlled by the Democrats.  

        In 2007, Democrats enjoyed a 256 to 178 majority in the House.  

        Polling, at the time, showed Americans supporting the impeachment of both Bush and Cheney.  Democrats decided to take impeachment off the table.  Pelosi never once pushed for investigation into the events leading up to the Iraq war.  

        http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/...

        Unlike the Senate which has rewritten the rules to require 60 votes to pass anything, the House is a simple majority vote.  And the Democrats were in the majority.  

        The Democrats also didn't control the loudest mouths in the press during Bush's terms either.
        Honestly, I've been reading about the biased press since LBJ was president.  It's an excuse used by people who need a handy scapegoat.  That way, politicians don't have to do what they don't want to do anyway.  

        By the time 2007 rolled around, the "bloom was off the rose" for the Bush administration.  It was Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Steney Hoyer who chose not to investigate.  

  •  These groups are funded by the Koch bros., (0+ / 0-)

    and other right-wing fanatic billionare fascists. They should be investigated by, not only the IRS, but also the FBI.

    The problem with political jokes is they get elected.

    by shoeless on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:26:06 AM PDT

    •  shoeless - why? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musiccitymollie

      What law is broken if billionaire conservatives fund right-wing groups? Seems to me that everyone, including billionaires, have every right to fund any kind of non-profit group as long as they do so within the constraints of the current IRS code.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:09:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is a sham. (0+ / 0-)

        Everyone knows that these billionaires are funding the teabaggers and other anti-government groups for purely political reasons. Their only goal is to eliminate their own taxes, and deregulate their businesses so that they can pollute the environment and rob the 99%. They fund the dumbass right-wing ground troops in order to get Republican stooges into office to push their agenda. Anyone who thinks these groups are not political is extremely naive.

        The problem with political jokes is they get elected.

        by shoeless on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:19:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  shoeless - while that may all be true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musiccitymollie

          there is nothing illegal about it and nothing that should attract the attention of the FBI.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Tue May 14, 2013 at 10:19:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  shoeless (0+ / 0-)

          This is not (or should not be) a 'partisan' matter.

          Do progressives really want investigative reporters (according to Ben Wisner, ACLU, the two reporters from AP WERE the AP's investigative reporters) to come under unwarranted  scrutiny?

          Or for the Treasury Department to target folks due to ideological beliefs.  

          The second may not have happened, I'll reserve my judgment until I have more information.  

          But this is important, in that if the actions taken by the IRS were improper, someone must be held accountable.

          If they aren't, look for the same to happen to progressive groups when Repubs take over again.  (And if that happens, and the progressive community has been complicit in trying to foil or block an investigation, how the heck can they say anything about it?)

          Mollie

          "Only he who can see the invisible, can do the impossible."-- Frank L. Gaines


          hiddennplainsight

          by musiccitymollie on Tue May 14, 2013 at 10:23:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This should NOT be a partisan game (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musiccitymollie

    Most non-profits (full-disclosure - I manage a non-political one) work hard to stay within the tax code guidelines.  I have no patience for ones that don't.  Here's an excellent piece on the topic.

    Which side are you on?

    by ThirstyGator on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:28:03 AM PDT

  •  Political Affiliation Disqualifies As 501(c)4s (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rschndr, DocGonzo
    There's no justification for targeting them on the basis of political affiliation...
    If you mean whether they lean a particular way politically, that's correct. But the fact that they were obviously political organizations should automatically bring them under scrutiny. If you put "Tea Party" in the title of your organization, then you are saying that it has a political aim as the principal goal.

    So a group with that name should get extra scrutiny, just like if you had a group called "Liberal PAC".

    My question is whether they were also spying on these groups. Since there is no effective review of wiretaps and our intelligence agencies are scooping up all electronic communications, it is just a matter of time before groups are singled out for abuse based on their political affiliation.

  •  we want the president to name a.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DocGonzo

    special prosecurot so we can filibuster his nomination.. ba dum pum

  •  You are what's broken in this Party. (0+ / 0-)

    Wash. Judge Tells Cops To Return Man’s Marijuana Or Be Found In Contempt

    by JesseCW on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:56:51 AM PDT

  •  Democrats Blamed for Republicans Purging Tea Party (0+ / 0-)

    What about when it turns out that the IRS singled out Tea Party applicants for investigation because Republicans in the IRS (or outside pressuring it) wanted to limit the competition for Republican tax-exempt political donations?

    Democrats will get blamed anyway.

    In any case, Tea Party groups all are committed to avoiding taxes by any means necessary (including shooting). That sounds like a red flag for investigating every one of them that applies to avoid taxes.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue May 14, 2013 at 07:58:42 AM PDT

  •  ProPublica has a little more depth on this situati (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib

    on, which seems to indicate that maybe the IRS, who some here send some love to, was maybe doing a little more than "target the TeaParty." As the people in the agency have done at the behest of presidents over many decades, and in cooperation with the J. Edgar Hoovers of the world too:

    On Friday, Lois Lerner, the head of the division on tax-exempt organizations, apologized to Tea Party and other conservative groups because the IRS’ Cincinnati office had unfairly targeted them. Tea Party groups had complained in early 2012 that they were being sent overly intrusive questionnaires in response to their applications.

    That scrutiny appears to have gone beyond Tea Party groups to applicants saying they wanted to educate the public to “make America a better place to live” or that criticized how the country was being run, according to a draft audit cited by many outlets. The full audit, by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, will reportedly be released this week. (ProPublica was not contacted by the inspector general’s office.)  

    http://www.propublica.org/...

    Given the way the administration appears to be playing the Game of Thrones these days,  ask a daring whistleblower how that works, it might be hard to ever get a real clear look at how the increasingly integrated instrumentation of State Security actually was operating in this circumstance. One wonders if someone will "leak" the drafts of that audit, to see what was "redacted" to cover whose arses...

    Would it not be really ironic and silly and cool if it turned out that kosworld and the grass-roots Teaparty troops (not the Kochs and Roves, but those myriad "voteagainsttheirowninterest" low-information types) actually had something to JOINTLY be afraid of, and for good reason?

    Remember how the disease of repression and "control" spreads -- it's an endemic urge in bureaucracy, augmented and amplified by the gains the Few can take off the rest of us by hastening the day, particularly the kind that supports and lives off of the growth of that UberState thing. Undiscovered, undisclosed, unresisted, it just spreads, like toe fungus at the YMCA...

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:04:32 AM PDT

  •  Teabagger Lady on Chris Mathews last eve (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda in Ohio

    She said IRS kept asking for additional information for their Tax Exempt Status Application.  That is part of their job which is to scrutinize.

    We do not need an IRS who is like Glenn Beck's Audience which believes everything their master says.

  •  Why tax exempt status and we can't even afford (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda in Ohio

    fargin' meals on wheels and head start???

    Maybe this will give us an opening to go after tax exempt status.

    Validate my parking Validate my parenting Validate my politics Validate my religion And I will be happy.

    by 88kathy on Tue May 14, 2013 at 08:11:36 AM PDT

  •  I don't get why this is a scandal. (0+ / 0-)

    They should be investigated - why should political groups be tax exempt?  

  •  Well, we did recommend (0+ / 0-)

    PBO get new advisors And many warned PBO Not to play "nice" with the GOP......
    In return I was (along with "millions" of others) called "fucking retarded".

    At this juncture? I'm making popcorn
    fk it

  •  Maybe I'm missing something (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda in Ohio

    But:

    1) Groups with "Tea Party" and "patriot" start popping up all over the place around 2009/2010 after that moron Rick Santelli goes on TV with an army of commodities traders and starts screaming about how he's sick of helping poor people because they are so stupid.

    2) The Koch Brothers among others, had been laying the groundwork for a tea party movement for years-- a political movement with a political agenda.  a bunch of tea party groups start forming, some of them using money from the Kochs or similar sources, and some of them apply for 501(C) status as tax exempt public interest non profits.

    3)  501(c) groups are supposed to be non political, and IRS notices that many of these groups probably are, in fact, INHERENTLY political.  So they start asking these groups additional questions about their organizations, at which time some of them pull their own applications, probably because they wouldn't qualify, and the rest complain that they are being oppressed by the IRS, which isn't such a stretch for them because they view even the smallest tax as oppression.  

    4)  The media finds out about IRS investigators doing their job, the right wing narrative of these events immediately takes hold, Obama is questioned because the right is hoping they can link him to it personally, he denounces the IRS for doing its job, probably ends further eroding the IRS's ability to investigate fraudulent applications from political organizations and more right wing groups are free to engage in overtly political activity and save their money thanks to their non profit status that will no longer be questioned.

    5)  media compares to Watergate.  

    THE END.

    is this correct?

  •  This: (0+ / 0-)
    I'm sure conservatives would love a scenario where the IRS simply rubber-stamped the tax-exempt status applications of every conservative group, but if the IRS did that, what would the point be of having laws in the first place?
    AND this
    Moreover, the idea that conservatives are the only groups that have ever been singled out is ridiculous—liberals were targeted for political reasons during the Bush years.
    Yes, not all groups applying for tax-exempt status are legit.  In particular if they plan to campaign directly for particular candidates in particular races, as opposed to "issues" -- an oh-so-slippery-slope in all directions -- then that doesn't fit the law.  

    And yes, the liberal Episcopal church in Pasadena got penalized, when so VERY many fundamentalist churches were getting away with as much and more in far greater numbers.  

    In other words, we need enforcement by the IRS.  I am prepared for our side to take its lumps but they must do the same.

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

    by lgmcp on Tue May 14, 2013 at 09:26:07 AM PDT

    •  PLUS, and this was covered well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lgmcp

      on MSNBC last night, Citizens United tipped the scales ferociously on this issue, as following it there were massive "social welfare" groups formed, nearly all of which were right wing groups and most all filed for tax-exempt status.

      In short, the IRS is/was doing its job.

      Americans who vote against their own interests are driven by "the human need to find a strand of significance that will hold everything together that isn't on TV..." (quote is from P. Roth in "Sabbath's Theater")

      by ceebee7 on Tue May 14, 2013 at 03:21:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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