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IRS Seal
The maelstrom over the revelation that the IRS targeted anti-tax Tea Party groups applying for tax exempt status for scrutiny is showing no signs of slowing down, with Republicans seeing their chance to milk a scandal for political purposes. But while the politics is heating up, some important context is emerging, like the fact that liberal groups were targeted as well, and in fact the only group to have its application denied was a liberal group.
One of those groups, Emerge America, saw its tax-exempt status denied, forcing it to disclose its donors and pay some taxes. None of the Republican groups have said their applications were rejected.

Progress Texas, another of the organizations, faced the same lines of questioning as the Tea Party groups from the same IRS office that issued letters to the Republican-friendly applicants. A third group, Clean Elections Texas, which supports public funding of campaigns, also received IRS inquiries.

The IRS released a statement late Tuesday admitting that it had pooled together the applications of groups that were politically active, and incorrectly used the names of some of the groups—a "minority" of them—as the basis for targeting them. Which, David Cay Johnston at the Columbia Journalism Review reminds readers is the IRS's job.
  • Missing from much coverage is the relevant recent history—the role of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and how it prompted a deluge of requests from new organizations seeking tax-exempt status under tax code Section 501(c)(4) as “social welfare” organizations—despite the fact that many of these are blatantly political operations.
  • Congress requires the IRS to review every application for tax-exempt status to weed out organizations that are partisan, political, or that generate private gain. Congress has imposed this requirement on the IRS, and its predecessor agencies, since 1913.
Those are just two of the salient points Johnston makes to give the critical context behind this scandal. He also points out that the IRS is tasked with the vague and mushy directive to distinguish between groups are "primarily engaged" in politics versus those that are primarily engaged in "social welfare," and getting to that distinction is a challenge for an agency deluged by applications post-Citizens United and which has had its budget slashed by 17 percent per capita in the last decade. The agency processed 2,774 501(c)(4) applications in 2012.

The other point he makes, which we're not hearing frequently or loudly enough in the response to the kerfuffle, is a real scandal: "the social welfare tax exemption is being used by existing 501(c)(4) organizations, including some very large ones, to promote partisan political interests—the very activity Congress has explicitly prohibited for a century." In other words, Karl Rove and Crossroads.

This is a serious issue, one deserving of investigation. But Republicans could be biting off more than they can chew if it causes a bright light to be shone on how politically partisan organizations, like Rove's, are exploiting the law.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And..... (15+ / 0-)

    crickets from the traditional media and basic cable newsies that hung on every wingnut's last breathlessly ranty word.

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:16:50 AM PDT

    •  Which is par for the course (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike, Patate, scott5js, RockyMtnLib

      Then again, when Republicans do something egregious, the traditional media won't report it because they don't want to appear "biased" towards the liberals.

      Well guess what?


      Whew; sorry; these people have me hot under the collar.

      "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

      by MikeTheLiberal on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:41:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes (10+ / 0-)

    But Liberals aern't seeking to undermine the implementation of Obamacare by trying to stall and defund the IRS....oops, I mean.  IT'S CHILLING THIS INFRINGMENT ON LIBERTY WOULD HAPPEN IN THE US.  THIS IS THE TYPE OF THING THE NAZIS WOULD DO WHEN THEY WOULD INVADE A NEW COUNTRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  •  Also being discussed here: (18+ / 0-)

    My take on this is that it was more along the lines of "using a butterknife from the drawer as a screwdriver instead of bothering to go down the basement to get an actual screwdriver" than a major fuck-up.

  •  Never thought I'd say this but; Good for the IRS. (25+ / 0-)

    Our political system is swamped with dirty money.  And the Tea Party is a front group for billionaires which SHOULD have been targeted by the IRS. Not because they are conservative, but because they are so obviously designed specifically to influence politics in a way that earns their funders their money back in spades.  Now if the IRS would only go after the mega churches that insist on getting involved in politics.

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:25:24 AM PDT

  •  Big money trumps Democracy. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HugoDog, MikeTheLiberal, RockyMtnLib

    I'm shocked.

    "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

    by rocksout on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:26:07 AM PDT

  •  All 501(c)(4) (12+ / 0-)

    organizations, no matter what end of the political spectrum they come from should be aggresively investigated.

    Most of them of nothing but scams.

    Knowledge is Power. Ignorance is not bliss, it is suffering.

    by harris stein on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:28:07 AM PDT

  •  that coat of arms looks a "sad" face, doesn't it? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MikeTheLiberal, rocksout

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” - Mark Twain

    by pfiore8 on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:31:07 AM PDT

  •  Well, at least we can count on the Obama (4+ / 0-)

    administration and Congressional Dems to not make these points and instead just drop to their knees, pounding their chest and intoning "mea culpa."

    Imagine a Repub administration response to the reverse.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:31:27 AM PDT

    •  So... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scott5js, doroma

      you want Obama to waste time on this bullshit instead of letting the retards have their little "Victory" move on to important things? Wasting time on this bullshit takes time away from working on things that are real.

      Want to know a REAL scandal? Look up the problem with sexual assaults in the Military.

      •  He already wastes plenty of time on other matters. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's odd that it's ok when he doesn't fight back - plenty of excuses for that - but when he fights back .... oh wait ... he never fights back.

        Sure, sexual assaults in the military are a scandal, but one of many legitimate scandals he won't spend lots of time on.

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

        by accumbens on Wed May 15, 2013 at 12:27:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  My thoughts exactly when they were so quick (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      accumbens, RockyMtnLib

      to apologize and call it outrageous and all.....even before the IG's report came out.

      Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven. William Shakespeare

      by lutznancy on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:25:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What would they defend? (0+ / 0-)

      The IRS itself has admitted they sued political terms to flag applications. Not all political terms just rw ones. THEY have said it was wrong (which is was). You want the admin to defend that?

  •  Funny story... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MikeTheLiberal, jfromga, trumpeter

    I worked in a hotel doing audit work a few years back. The local Tea Party people would come in and hold their meetings at the hotel and put their members up in nice rooms. I always found it funny that they listed themselves as a non-profit. Something just seemed odd about it but then again I think religious institutions should be taxed as well.

  •  But -- but -- but I already bought my... (10+ / 0-)

    IRS-GATE ballcap and a new, comfy chair in which I was going to sit in and watch that fine, upstanding Darrell Issa conduct hearings all summer long to get to the bottom of the scourge that is the Obama administration.

    I can still haz Benghazi, though, right?

    And I see some folks are still trying to fuel their wet dream of having Eric Holder resign, too, so I guess I'll go ahead and order my "Hold 'er? No, thanks!" mug.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:33:09 AM PDT

  •  The bigger problem of the IRS story is the (4+ / 0-)

    specific focus on smaller citizen groups.  The general job as outlined by Congress was nearly impossible and the IRS handled it poorly.  But they did not attack the much larger fish with the same vigor from all indications.  There are two Americas in the application of rules and such - this seems like more evidence therein.

    •  it was a Bush appointee (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MikeTheLiberal, trumpeter, Sue B, David PA

      overseeing the effort, do you have to wonder why some big fish weren't looked at.  The 1% still rules inside the government.  And outside it, too.

      •  Agreed about the 1% ... but considering the focus (0+ / 0-)

        was on Teabagger groups mostly, the 1% rule has become quite bipartisan (not saying equal, clearly the parties differ, but not by a ton)

        •  it was little tea party groups (0+ / 0-)

          sounds more like the libertarian leaning ones from one tea party newsletter blog, so the 1% was still protecting their interests against the Paulite wing of the party.

          And another salient point from what little factual information is, the numbers of right wing to left wing organizations are quite disproportionate, so one might use something likely to net the most likely offenders quickly and easily.

          It was a search term, not the entire decision process from what I can tell.   Maybe when we all get to read the IG's report instead of relying on hearsay, we'll know more about what the IG really found.

    •  I think it is more likely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David PA

      that the larger groups were more organized and better represented when they filed their request for a 501(c)(4) determination.  If you make a good submission that touches on all the criteria, you usually get a rubberstamp.

      Also, Crossroads was organized before the potential abuse of 501(c)(4)s became a salient issue.

      "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 Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:21:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why does the IRS want to kill grandma ? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Red Bean, MikeTheLiberal, Patate

    Outrage at 11 !!!

    Drop the name-calling MB 2/4/11 + Please try to use ratings properly! Kos 9/9/11 + Trusted Users have a responsibility to police the general tenor... Hunter 5/26/06

    by indycam on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:33:23 AM PDT

  •  And the same Democrats who did in ACORN (9+ / 0-)

    with their rush to judgement are doing it again. Its too bad they aren't as quick to rush to end torture, close Gitmo, address the long-term unemployment crisis, etc., etc., etc.

    I won't believe corporations are people until Texas executes one. Leo Gerard.

    by tgrshark13 on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:34:02 AM PDT

  •  The Frenzy of the Crowd (6+ / 0-)

    with their pitchforks has already begun.  Once that happens there is little talking them down.  It is already a major scandal that the Teapartiers feel they were selected to be harassed and persecuted (as are all Christians) for their out of "lamestream media" beliefs and principles.  There is no stopping them now.

    The frenzy of an irrational crowd shouting "they done us wrong - get 'em" is one of the ugliest, most dangerous , even deadliest manifestations of human behavior.  Things get out of control - easily.

  •  Silver lining? (6+ / 0-)

    The Republicans brought this up. If it turns into an investigation that shows the CON 501c(4) scam by Rove and other major corporate fronts, it might work out in the Dems' favor.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:36:23 AM PDT

  •  That second bit of hypertext (10+ / 0-)

    in Joan's story deserves a click. It's a Bloomberg story that succeeds in bringing balance and perspective into the previously lurid narrative of an anti-Tea Party witch hunt.

    In early 2011, the IRS denied the tax-exempt status of an affiliate of the San Francisco-based Emerge America, which trains Democratic women to run for office. The agency said it was disqualified because the group’s activities were “conducted primarily for the benefit of a political party and a private group of individuals, rather than the community as a whole.”

    Approvals Revoked

    The decision was a surprise because four of Emerge America’s affiliates and its main headquarters already had been approved as nonprofits.

    The tax agency on Oct. 21, 2011, revoked those approvals. The national organization and its state affiliates are now incorporated under Section 527 of the tax code.

    “We didn’t even get the opportunity to answer questions,” said Karen Middleton, president of Emerge America. “We would have welcomed the opportunity to respond to a questionnaire.”

    Now the story becomes:

    Liberals Denied Tax Breaks While Anti-Gov Agitators Get Thumbs Up

    •  Don't tell that to my brother. (0+ / 0-)

      I sent him a link to the Bloomberg article. His response (and he is on balance and by comparison one of the saner conservatives you'll ever meet):

      "Bullshit! Do you believe everything you read from a liberal source?"

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:01:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It makes me wonder about the motivation of the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MikeTheLiberal, jfromga, David PA

    IRS official who issued the "apology."

  •  You jest? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge, BradyB

    Multiple hundreds of conservative groups targeted vs. three (3) liberal organizations. In what universe does this pass for a counter-example?

  •  Trifecta? (5+ / 0-)

    Republicans are doing a premature jig right now.  It's the same gleeful jig they did for "Fast & Furious".

    They launched 11 investigations.....whatever happened to "Fast & Furious"?  Weren't they going to imprison Eric Holder over that scandal?  Weren't they going to impeach Obama over that scandal?

    Whatever happened to "Fast & Furious"?  Whatever happened to the New Black Panthers scandal that FOX News did 58 segments on?  They showed the same four guys 58 different times.

    Same old, same old.  

  •  The Republicans may have bit off more than (4+ / 0-)

    they can chew, but only if there is push back.

    Where is it?

    In fact, the C4s should all be facing thorough scrutiny - is it any wonder that the Republicans keep cutting the IRS's budget?  They make these laws, and then make sure they can't be enforced, thereby feeding their "government is incompetent" meme.

    The most violent element in society is ignorance.

    by Mr MadAsHell on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:42:05 AM PDT

  •  None of this matters anymore since the IRS (4+ / 0-)

    publicly said they apologize for targeting the conservative groups.  No mention of anyone else....they just went on the cameras like a dumb asses, before even an investigation took place, and said "We are soooo sorry for targeting the Tea Baggers.  They were told to do it...blah blah blah.."

    They should have never done that and the PR rep who told them to do this should be fired!  They apologized on camera/tape etc so we can forget bringing up other groups now.

  •  As per Larry O last evening, (6+ / 0-)

    the IRS law was changed in 1959 from: "exclusively engaged in politics", to the mushy version: "primarily engaged in politics".

    That liberal orgs are targeted is no surprise. There is a long history of it. And rightfully so.

    there is no there there, (or here here, if you prefer)

    "Show up. Pay attention. Tell the truth. And don't be attached to the results." -- Angeles Arrien

    by Sybil Liberty on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:43:24 AM PDT

  •  Bravo (4+ / 0-)

    some facts are finally making their way into this discussion.

    It is clearly emerging from the right wing noise machine spin into examination of the underlying actions that actually occured.  The IRS must review, they must have criteria for review.  If they did it poorly, but without malicious intent, it comes under the category of fix it and do better, not scandal, not criminal, and certainly not the issue people have portrayed it to be.

    And all the screaming when the IG's actual report (the important appendix to a report actually) wasn't even out yet, meaning, no real ability of commentators to know the facts.  When Daryl Issa's committee becomes a reliable factual source, let me know.

  •  Where is the anti-Citizens United v. FEC outrage? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Doubt will come from MSM. Maybe MSNBC. Would hope but doubt Obama will seize the moment. Would be great talking point for courageous progressive leaders.

  •  Dang, I KNEW it! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MikeTheLiberal, jfromga

    I couldn't be believe our country's long history of targeting peace groups and etc. had flipped 100%, overnight.

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

    by lgmcp on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:46:31 AM PDT

  •  Sounds like someone wants a distraction from off- (3+ / 0-)

    shore tax havens scandal.

  •  Of course, pols don't want these groups looked at. (4+ / 0-)

    It's a bipartisan choice to get dark money.  

    "We're now in one of those periods when the reality of intense pressure on the middle class diverges from long-held assumptions of how the American bargain should work" --James Fallows

    by Inland on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:49:00 AM PDT

  •  The IRS should have never apologized (10+ / 0-)

    They should have said, yes we used the terms Tea party, and whatever else they used to single out political groups for extra scrutiny because thats they're job.

    I dont see where the fault would be in doing that...

    This is all a bunch of media driven bullshit if you asked me.

    The only thing the IRS did wrong was not go after the liberal groups just as hard, but who is to say they didnt....A liberal group was actually denied and the Conservative groups were not.

    I think all these political groups should be banned from both sides..that would solve this once and for all...

    If you run a political ad, a political mailer, or use a political figure's name in any advertisement,you are done..Period!

    •  In 1950's, 501c4s were change to "primarily" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David PA, RockyMtnLib

      social welfare from "exclusively" or a word like that, so in the beginning you had to be Boy Scouts or something, now "primarily" can mean anything

      •  it's an easy jump... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's an easy jump from "primarily" to "primary."  Maybe that's why Karl Rove and the Tea Party types took it.  If they get caught, they can blame their reading disorders or their eye doctors, who didn't detect their sight defects.  

        That's the convenient thing about being Karl Rove or someone who follows his method:  there's always someone else to blame for devious if not flat-out illegal behavior; they, personally, are never at fault.  Never.  

  •  That diary was enormously helpful. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfromga, David PA

    My thanks to Joan and to David Cay Johnston.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:55:16 AM PDT

  •  Okay now I'm really outraged! Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... (0+ / 0-)
  •  Here's the Thing (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfromga, David PA, LS Dem, Juliann

    I've been listening to the news about this on radio and TV and reading things and what strikes me is that since the Republican Party and the Republican House (and Congress in general not to miss an opportunity to equally tar the Dems in the Senate) have received ratings that close in on single digits, they have had to come up with a plan to divert attention from how little they have done and how much they intend to obstruct any future progress.  Their method is to get enough scandal pots bubbling away to make it impossible to hear ourselves think.  SCOTUS regularly makes rulings intended to motivate the legislative branch to take some action (as with Citizens United).  Why is anyone surprised that one small thing that can occur is for the IRS to make sure they get their pound of flesh and thus discourage 501c4 groups of any stripe.

    Meanwhile there has been small notice taken of the 37th vote against the ACA in the House.   Pelosi was right - if Boehner was a woman there'd be hell to pay.

    Let's try to stay on track and keep working the progressive agenda, keep shouting about the progressive agenda and how obstructionist the Republicans have been for going on 5 years. They have no agenda, they have no plan, all they can do is keep saying no.  

    •  Mr. Boehner admitted... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mr. Boehner admitted that the only reason he was holding another vote on the ACA was to give the new House members the ability to proclaim, while campaigning, that they, personally, had voted against it.  

      So, shouldn't the Republican Party, or at least the new members' campaign funds, be billed for the cost of running Congress for the hours it takes to have yet another vote that all acknowledge will go nowhere?  

      And, like all good catering halls, shouldn't there be a 10% or more mark-up for use of the facility?  When you rent a venue for a reception, for instance, you don't just pay for the cost of air conditioning, food, wait-staff, janitors, amortization of furniture costs and so on, you also pay a premium that goes directly to the venue's owner, as profit on the owner's investment.  

      It is time for Mr. Boehner and/or the Republicans to reimburse the taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars for using our Halls of Congress for their campaign events.  They owe us.  

      Or, on the other hand, since it is supposedly illegal for them to use their offices for fund-raising purposes, couldn't we just throw all of them in jail?  

  •  Not a surprise at all. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exreaganite, jfromga, David PA

    The faux outrage generated by the right is, as always, bull.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:58:33 AM PDT

  •  This will be reported by MSM in 1,000,000,000... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jfromga, RockyMtnLib


    While Democrats and the President rush to decry it and once again appear weak and afraid.

    WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH - Big Brother 1984, Republican Party 2000-2013

    by Fordmandalay on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:00:19 AM PDT

  •  The more I learn about this controversy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the less impressed I am with its supposed importance.

  •  The issue is *why* they got the letter, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA

    not merely that they got it.  The liberal groups were selected based on objective criteria; if the same could be said about the tea party groups, there'd be no issue.

    •  The objective criteria (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David PA, doroma, Juliann

      was that their applications indicated that there was a risk that they were political organizations.  Objectively speaking, in 2010, there was a risk that an organization with "Tea Party," "Patriot" or "9/12" in its name was alsoa political organization.  Is that even a debatable point?

      "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 Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:28:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And there was no risk of lefty groups (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        David PA, VClib

        doing the same?  There were multiple ways of designing filters that would avoid targeting only RW groups.

        •  In 2010 there was a Tea Party explosion. How (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          could a group with Tea Party in the name not be political is a fair question.

        •  A distinct minority of applicants (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          that were sent to the special unit set up to review political organizations were "Tea Party," "Patriot" or "9/12" groups.  The TIGTA report does not identify the nature of the majority of the groups subject to review.

          The TIGTA report also says that every "Tea Party," "Patriot" or "9/12" that was sent to the special unit met the criteria--disregarding its name--for being at risk of being a political organization.


          "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 Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:53:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The exact breakdown was (0+ / 0-)

            72 "Tea Party" groups
            13 "Patriot" groups
            11 "9/12" groups

            202 other groups

            Also, I reread the TIGTA report--in fact, TIGTA did not conclude that all "Tea Party," "Patriot" or "9/12" groups met the criteria heightened review.  19% (based on a statistical sample) did not, according to TIGTA, meet the criteria.  However, that is apparently based on completed files and not applications, and the IRS disputed TIGTA's conclusion.

            Note that if 81% of "Tea Party," "Patriot" or "9/12" groups were correctly identified as being at risk of being political organizations based on their names, that is a higher percentage than were identified by other means.

            "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 Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:51:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Finally this is starting to be talked about... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA

    ..I'm sick of these crybaby fat white teabags acting like they are the only people ever to be wronged in this world.

  •  turn the tables... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    1040SU, David PA, LS Dem

    it's time to, you should excuse the expression...come out with guns blazing! The correct answer to all the belly aching is "Yes, you are correct. Groups should not be singled out by their name. From now on, every single group will be scrutinized; we shall not grant this status without giving any group a serious and thoughtful scrutiny to insure that no one is abusing this privilege. And just to be sure, everyone who already has this status will have to resubmit, and undergo the same scrutiny. In this manner, we shall ensure that all are treated fairly and legally."

    Karl Rove would start running ads to shut down the investigation.

    If you're going to reason with me, please use actual reason.

    by jeannesgirl on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:12:25 AM PDT

  •  In re: critical context (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that would require a media that gives a fat rat's ass about  good reporting.

    Republicans never bite off more than they can chew as long as the media encourages them to keep biting.

  •  Some people paint a target on themselves (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There are those who insist on making an issue out of some kind of interpretation of things that says they don't have to pay any taxes because the IRS is an illegal concept.  Never mind that they haven't consulted any attorneys and this has been tested over and over again at every level.  

    The IRS has among its employees people who, frankly, think like Doberman Pincers trained as attack dogs.  THey have rules and they believe in rules, but they are also humans.

    When they can see that an entire group is promoting the idea of not paying taxes, and is consistently out there with signs at protests and is passing out leaflets about ignoring tax laws, they see something to look at.  

    If you work at a call center where people are directed when they must call the IRS, this type of call stands out because these are the people that, as soon as a phone center employee comes on the line, start yelling at them.  

    When you paint a target on yourself, you should expect to get some attention.  

    THere are many liberal groups that ride the line, and they get scrutinized too.

    I would say that the difference that I have seen is that right wing zealots tend to call the IRS and "turn in" liberal groups, thus inciting review.  

    This is not really a liberal modus operandi.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:21:37 AM PDT

  •  Such an Easy Answer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is no outrage on the left because we are so used to being 'investigated' by 'independent agencies', as directed by 'politically motivated conservatives' when they have been in charge.  

    The left has its act together and is not afraid of a bright light upon it...

    Conservatives, on the other hand... cockroach outrage when the light is flipped on.

    Which leads us to the logical conclusion, What are the conservatives hiding?

    ... the watchword of true patriotism: "Our country - when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." - Carl Schurz; Oct. 17, 1899

    by NevDem on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:23:05 AM PDT

    •  Answer: Conservatives Are Hiding The Koch (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David PA, RockyMtnLib

      Brothers (and other right wing billionaires) money. Here's another question: how can a right wing organization launder money to fund right wing political causes and candidates, and avoid paying taxes too? Answer: apply for tax exempt status. This is an attempt by the right wing to undermine our democracy (Citizens United wasn't enough for them) AND do an end run around taxation at the same time.

  •  A tempest in a "Tea" Pot (5+ / 0-)

    I have watched with great amusement the phony outrage and naked hypocrisy from both sides about this latest IRS fiasco.

    As a 30 year CPA and one that deals with this organization from time to time, I'm certainly the last one to get upset when they get slapped around, whether they deserve it or not.

    They have a well deserved reputation as being a pretty nasty actor.

    Let's face it, how can you really say you "like" the IRS with a straight face?

    However, in this particular case, I think there is quite a bit of "smoke", but in the end I don't think the fire is going to be as hot as most people think, and I'm 99.9% certain that this will not have any ties to the white house.

    For one, does anybody here think Obama is that stupid and ham handed to mess around like that?

    No fucking way.

    The IRS is a revenue collection agency, that is their job.

    Handing out "passes" to organizations that give them a green light to never pay tax is by it's nature going to be a process that will require the applicant to jump through a lot of hoops.

    And rightly so.

    Let's keep in mind, these organizations were not picked by the IRS for scrutiny first, they were "applicants" for a very special status.

    They were not chosen for an audit, this process was initiated by the organization itself.

    As far as the tut-tutters who are sure to say to me, "well, why weren't so called "liberal" organizations "targeted"?

    At this point, we don't know the ratio of "liberal" to "tea party" applicants, but it may turn out to be very high in terms of right to left.

    In any event, the self labeling of these groups gave the IRS a very easy clue in terms of their possible identity and motives.

    These guys are going to use everything they can think of to identify and prevent abuse by taxpayers.

    For me, this was just another tool in their toolbox, albeit one handed to them on a virtual silver platter by the various tea party applicants.

    Should they have been more even handed in their "search".


    We need to let more facts come out to make that determination.

    But am I worried that Obama and/or the White House was involved with this?

    Not in a million fucking years.

    "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

    by jkay on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:23:47 AM PDT

  •  Hypocrisy is (0+ / 0-)

    strong with the right.

  •  Sadly, the "scandal" may impede the deeper look (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    T Maysle

    I wish I was more confident that Joan's optimistic finale would pan out:  

    The other point he makes, which we're not hearing frequently or loudly enough in the response to the kerfuffle, is a real scandal: "the social welfare tax exemption is being used by existing 501(c)(4) organizations, including some very large ones, to promote partisan political interests—the very activity Congress has explicitly prohibited for a century." In other words, Karl Rove and Crossroads.

    This is a serious issue, one deserving of investigation. But Republicans could be biting off more than they can chew if it causes a bright light to be shone on how politically partisan organizations, like Rove's, are exploiting the law

    Unfortunately, I think it is far more likely that this faux-scandal will render the whole topic toxic and make any further investigation impossible - just like the Dan Rather controversy precluded any further discussion of Bush's military service.
  •  The Media Has Gone Way Conservative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aimeehs, RockyMtnLib

    and yes they are some news stories that are harmful to this country based on politics.  This is a democratic site and you would expect diaries to be pro democratic, but AP, Google, Reuters are supposed to be real news sites, but ends up being a propaganda news media site for conservatives.

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

    by rssrai on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:31:13 AM PDT

  •  The IRS Should Be Doubling Down On Auditing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA, RockyMtnLib

    ANY group that has "Tea Party" in its name. As I recall, the Koch brothers are using Tea Party groups as a front to funnel money to fund right wing political candidates and causes. Tax exempt my ass!!

  •  How can you target illegal political activity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA, RockyMtnLib

    without using political language in your search terms?

    The question is, did they manage to target LIBERAL political groups without using such language, and if so, how?

    I think it may have been premature to condemn the use of terms that would identify the organizations that have demonstrated a willingness to flaunt the law, without first considering whether or not there is alternative language that would obtain the same results, and whether or not conservative groups were treated differently than liberal groups.

    This is one time I think the administration may have gotten rope-a-doped.

    Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. --Herman Melville

    by ZedMont on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:42:19 AM PDT

    •  You can look for political issues. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Easy enough.

    •  Zed - flaunt the law? (0+ / 0-)

      The Tea Party in nearly every event they sponsored were model citizens. They obtained all the necessary permits. Followed all the time, place, and manner restrictions imposed on them. They had insurance bonds, hired local police as security, brought in portable lavatories, had a clean up crew pick up any trash, and left the parks and public places as they found them. They broke no laws, had no clashes with police, and positioned themselves as law abiding citizens. How do you get from that that the Tea Party flaunts the law?

      I don't agree with their political goals but if we had any recent political movement that demonstrated how to hold multiple large, peaceful, meetings the Tea Party set the standard.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:59:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is the biggest story of the day. Once again, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raptavio, doroma

    the media rushed to judgment before all the facts were in: it WASN'T a targetting of conservative groups, after all.

  •  I sent in a Zing! to Tallahassee Democrat (0+ / 0-)

    just the other day saying this very same thing. Wonder if it got published.

    "Investigating the 100s of tax-exempt 501(c)4 orgs created after the Citizens United ruling is a necessary process. Can't blame the IRS that most are conservative PACs."

    "You are what you write, not what you look like."

    by PHScott on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:46:06 AM PDT

  •  Why didn't they say that in the first place? Why (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the apology?  Why the Obama/Holder outrage?

    •  There are times when (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Obama Administration uses its political ju jitsu and righties energy against them and comes out like gangbusters.

      But in a few cases, sad to say, and this is honestly how I see it - the administration curls up and takes the "We'll do whatever you want, just please don't impeach/punish us" stance.

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:29:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  At least Stephen Colbert has it figured out... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA
  •  Did GOP spike the ball at the 10-yard line? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    After the conservative martyrdom has been in full display for a few days, sounds like the IRS discriminated all across the board!

    Boehnor was wondering who should go to jail? Well, turns out it might not be IRS people!

    •  At least we (0+ / 0-)

      wait until we cross the goal line and an official raises both arms above his head before we spike the ball.

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:31:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whitewater 2.0 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JGibson, RockyMtnLib

    Meanwhile republicans pass legislation ending overtime pay  as we know it and not a peep of outrage from the main stream media. The only dem with a forceful voice in DC is Senator Warren. Too bad the president didn't take the lead on student loans like Elizabeth Warren's comparing banks interest rates to student loan interest rates. Obama's abandonment of his base on many issues to meet the radical GOP agenda has put him in a  no win situation. Now he finds himself with few strong supporters as he tries to ward off these attacks on his leadership. Barack Obama still has more integrity than the whole republican party combined.

  •  Did the GOP spike the ball at the 10-yard line? (0+ / 0-)

    That would be way too hilarious...

  •  BTW (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA

    Organizing for America is a 501(c)(4) organization.  The well-connected big organizations have the legal clout to get it right or to get passes.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:53:08 AM PDT

  •  Oh gee that wil takesome air out of Isa's balloon (0+ / 0-)
  •  the only diff is they have 1200 radio stations (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    screaming as one. limbaugh, hannity, and the local blowhards are on it 24/7, in between benghazi.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:05:52 AM PDT

  •  The Cons should probably consider that the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA

    President playing dumb is a danger signal. But, they probably won't. They like thinking that he's really dumb.
    Anyway, the revue of not for profit corporations doing eleemosynary and educational stuff is entirely consistent with the new directives to get annual reports from everyone, regardless of size.
    It makes sense to inspect small outfits that don't have much documentation first to get a baseline. Then, after the parameters are set, including the extent to which outside parties have to be hired, or not, to comply with reporting requirements, the examiners can go after the big fish knowing what they are looking for. Auditors always do a random sample of small accounts first.

    That said, I'd argue that every organization (artificial body) should be taxed on its gross revenues, regardless of profit or loss, as a cost of using our currency, a public utility. And the money changers should pay double because they're not producing a useful good or service.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:13:48 AM PDT

  •  There IS a problem here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA, RockyMtnLib

    Using the tags Tea Party and Patriot DID, it seems, bottleneck those groups for extra scrutiny based on their names. Whether or not you think those groups should have been given extra scrutiny is another matter.

    The IRS screwed up. It's not a "scandal" and I don't know how you could put someone in prison over it (really, Boehner?), but this shouldn't be done.

    That said, I want to see a breakdown of the total applicants under this form of tax exempt status in the time period this was happening, and then see a comparison as to how many of each "ideology" was subjected to extra scrutiny. I bet there were hundreds of "tea party" applications, probably using a standardized application provided by Americans for Prosperity.

    Thee whole thing rings as a sad joke to me anyway - the idea that the Tea Party isn't a political entity is mind-bogglingly STUPID.

  •  Another easy-to-fix problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If the 'pubs are so offended and outraged, let the House, which they controlled the last time I looked, pass a bill repealing Sec. 501(c)(4).  Or let them spell out clearly the guidelines the IRS is to follow in approving or rejecting applications for this tax status.

    But it's hypocritical to leave this exemption on the books; do little if anything about clarifying the grounds for approving applications, and then to squeal because the IRS staff use "red flags" to grade these applications.

    "The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little. " --Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by jg6544 on Wed May 15, 2013 at 11:07:29 AM PDT

  •  A counterclaim (0+ / 0-)

    I just posted the Bloomberg story on lucianne and I got a counterclaim: 27 GOP-leaning organizations were scrutinized, 15 got approval, 10 are not yet approved, and 2 have given up. I am asking for a source of these statistics.
    I would like to see the President propose a legislative clarification of the standards for 501c4 status. I am getting ready to call 1-202-456-1111. I am also contacting my House. I am pretty sure this would have to originate in the House, because it is a money bill.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Wed May 15, 2013 at 11:10:08 AM PDT

  •  Pass the on! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA, RockyMtnLib

    Someone needs to pass this post on to the MSNBC evening lineup---especially Chris Matthews. He gets on my nerves because he goes off half cocked sometimes. He's been awful on this story. He is giving the right to much benefit of the doubt. Someone should compare the number of applications from right and left organizations---I bet you'll find that the right has flooded the IRS with applications and liberal group applications are very light. This is why  the IRS had a need to slow up the process for them and not liberal groups. There has not been any national movement on the left to push setting up these types of non-profits whereas on the right, the national tea party movement, funded by the Koch's, has really pushed this as a way to fund their "grassroots" operations. Please push this in the media and you'll see the storyline start to change!

  •  Boehner wants to send someone to prison (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Red meat!

    This country has the highest rate of incarceration of any country in the world.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Wed May 15, 2013 at 11:22:57 AM PDT

  •  To further unpack how the IRS "scandal" is not a (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David PA, RockyMtnLib


    Auditing is an art as much as a science. Professional judgment is called for on many issues that come up in the audit process. Some of these issues are deeply gray and can go either way with no crying foul. And some are black and white and fairly obvious. This case is black and white.

    Part of the standard process of obtaining tax exempt status is applying to the IRS for it. It's also standard that the IRS examines the applications to see if they do indeed qualify for tax exempt status. If there's anything that seems fishy about an application or warrants further investigation then further investigation is made.

    In the case of all these tea party groups that popped up all at once asking for exempt status, there was prima facie evidence that they were engaged primarily in political activities and were thus disqualified from exemption.  Now what would you do if you were faced with an epidemic of these cases coming across your desk? Especially if there were complaints and stories in the media about political groups abusing tax exempt status?

    That's what happened here. Middle managers used sound professional judgment to prioritize their investigations. There was no political pressure from the top or enemies lists or any of that crap. Just professional investigators following up on likely disqualified applications.

    And what did the tea partiers do? They freaked out, screamed persecution and made a big stink out of having to answer the same questions that any other group applying for tax exempt status has to. Because they're all a bunch of martyred victims just looking for something to be victimized by.

    I write all of this as a professional auditor. I don't do tax but I understand the process and how it's supposed to work. And this is nothing but another tea party witch hunt.

    I posted the above in another comment the other day but I feel that it's worth repeating

  •  Then how did this happen? (see link below). (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Tea Party Patriots is made up of, and funded by, millions of regular Americans just like you, who believe there is a better way forward for America. We are a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization that does not support any political party nor do we endorse candidates. If you support fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free market economic policies, we encourage you to sign up for Tea Party Patriots today."

    This has both "Tea Party" and "Patriot" in its name.

    This is another fake scandal.

  •  Even Russ Feingold has a 501(c)4 (0+ / 0-)

    This is at the very bottom of the main page of Progressives United, a 501(c)4 organization founded by Feingold:

    Authorized and paid for by Progressives United Inc., a 501(c)(4) organization.
    PO Box 620533, Middleton, WI 53562
    One has to remember that Feingold is arguably the single most vocal advocate for good government in American political history, and his name is one of two that are on the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act that was significantly weakened by the 2010 Citizens United v. FEC SCOTUS decision.

    If it takes a village to change a state, it'll take a city to change America!

    by DownstateDemocrat on Wed May 15, 2013 at 12:43:47 PM PDT

  •  Three counter points: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    1) Only three liberal groups got "the letter". Over 300 conservative groups did. There was a double standard for Liberal and right wing groups.

    2) The IRS used political/ideological search terms to ID those groups (Tea Party etc.).

    3) The "deluge of requests" had not begun when the IRS began using the political labels to ID applications.

  •  Are any of these progressive groups? (0+ / 0-)

    People who might lean on the President on a direction he might not want to go?  People competing with the Obama machine for fundraised dollars?

    Or, of course, they might include groups working against the locally dominant Texan Republicans, leading to IRS folks who in Texas are Republican and in Ohio might include Democrats.

    Mind you, the fact that only 3 progressive groups have been identified so far does not mean that the count is complete yet.

    We can have change for the better.

    by phillies on Thu May 16, 2013 at 12:03:59 PM PDT

  •  "Those are just two of the salient points Johnston (0+ / 0-)

    makes to give the critical context behind this scandal. He also points out that the IRS is tasked with the vague and mushy directive to distinguish between groups are "primarily engaged" in politics versus those that are primarily engaged in "social welfare," ".

    Lawrence O'Donnell,MSNBC has been talking about the "real" IRS scandal:

    "Internal Revenue Service agents have been struggling to do their jobs–which have been made essentially impossible by an incorrect interpretation of the law that the IRS made in 1959. It was then that the IRS changed the language of the law without any authority to do so. Here is how the tax law was written in its latest update in 1954 on 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. The 501(c)(4) designation was to apply only to: “Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”

    But a 1959 interpretation guideline written by the IRS says that: ”To be operated exclusively to promote social welfare, an organization must operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare…”  Clare Kim,

    It would be so sweet if all the bru-ha-ha over this "targeting" of conservative ogranizations by the IRS turned into something really helpful, like the IRS going back to inforcing the law as it was written, using the "exclusively operated" instead of "primarily operated" as the basis for qualifying for 501(c)(4) status.

  •  The IRA SHOULD chase "Taxed-Enough-Already" nuts! (0+ / 0-)

    Come on, you've got a bunch of angry-AND-crazy no-minds who call themselves "Taxed Enough Already".

    They're busy setting up organizations that laughingly claim tax-exempt status by saying they perform "social services" -- like SHUTTING THE GOVERNMENT DOWN!

    And you DON'T expect the IRS to go after them?  That's their JOB!  Hello??

    The TEA Party is the party of Stupidi-TEA, Duplici-TEA, Insani-TEA, Infantili-TEA and Voraci-TEA!

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