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IRS profiled Tea Party, conservatives

Editorial

Sometimes people who are dismissed as being paranoid have good reason to be paranoid.

Case in point: The admission last week by the chief of the Internal Revenue Service that the agency targeted conservative organizations seeking status as tax exempt social welfare groups.

While both liberal and conservative groups were taking advantage of the “Citizens United” ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2010 to create organizations that engage in political spending, the agency focused primarily on the applications from organizations that had words such as “tea party” and “patriot” in the name in questioning the validity of those organizations. A word like “progressive” in the name of a group, for instance, didn’t spark similar interest by the agency.

IRS officials later expanded their increased focus to groups that criticized “how the country was being run.” Issues criteria such as government spending, government debt, taxes, educating with advocacy and lobbying to make America better were also cause for IRS targeting. Groups stating that they liked the way the nation was being governed didn’t see additional scrutiny from the agency.

That meant that groups seen as unfriendly toward Democrats and the White House came under more intense scrutiny than organizations that leaned to the left. It also means that organizations were being targeted based on political speech. According to documents that Reuters News Service received from the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the increased scrutiny of the conservative groups started in March 2010, just three months after the high court ruling.

That this happened at all is an outrage. That then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman lied to congressional Republicans about the unfair IRS screening in March 2012 is worse.

“It is unconscionable that in the United States of America, groups were unfairly targeted by a government agency for exercising their First Amendment rights,” U.S. Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta, said Friday. “Americans from every political affiliation should be outraged by this discrimination. I look forward to hearing additional information from the agency as to how it will guarantee this type of harassment is not continued in the future on any level.”

We agree with Isakson. We also wonder whether the apology issued last week by Lois Lerner, chief of the IRS’s tax-exempt groups unit, would have been issued last week had it not been for the pending release this week of the Treasury Inspector General’s report. Lerner learned of the targeting in June 2011, nearly two years ago. To her credit, she ordered a broader criteria for scrutinizing applicants for the 501(c)4 tax-exempt status, but that also would have been the appropriate time to apologize. Instead, this issue has been batted around between Republican and Democratic lawmakers for far too long. The report coming out this week was the result of U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., requesting it last year.

The 501(c)4 organizations are prized by political advocates because they’re not required to disclose donors’ names. Whether that is a healthy situation for American politics and whether those qualification requirements should be tightened are other topics. But what should not be up for debate is whether an organization should be singled out simply because of the political views of its members and supporters.

Government only works when those being governed believe that rules and regulations are being applied fairly, particularly across political lines. In this case, it is clear that they have not.

Comments

LoneCycler 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Apparently our domestic media is so far in the tank for Obama they can’t bring themselves to report anything that might make his administration look bad. This editorial from the Herald goes some way towards making an apology for the IRS actions by expressing concern that the law for 501 (c) 4 organizations doesn’t require they disclose donations from the Koch brothers. What a horror that is for progressives! If a reader didn’t already know that the IRS is part of the US Treasury, of the executive branch of government, and that president Obama is responsible for its leadership and its actions, they would never learn it from this article. The president’s press secretary said today that Bush appointed the IRS commissioner. So they’re covered on this, by blaming Bush, but I doubt few outside the sock puppet media will buy that. The only name mentioned in this article who could be held responsible is a civil service executive who claimed the whole thing was started by a bunch of low level workers at the Cincinnati IRS office, almost as a prank that got out of hand, and she also said that she wasn’t very good at math. All in the same press conference. You’d have a hard time writing fiction this humorous. Now the president himself has gone on camera to say he will be outraged if it all turns out to be true. It was like watching Captain Renault in Rick’s café being shocked over the gambling.

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buddy 11 months, 1 week ago

Ironic how these same kind of charges were being made before the election and all the liberals were bashing republicans about how they were making up wild conspiracy theories to not re-elect Obama....And this same agency (IRS) is supposed to be in charge of implementing Obamacare.....Trust the government, hand over your guns we'll take care of you? NOPE

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bubbasmithredneck 11 months, 1 week ago

I think the IRS did a great job.....

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Sister_Ruby_Two 11 months, 1 week ago

.........just like when they did the same to NAACP and Doctor King. Right Mr. "Pig Slop For Brains" Genius?

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bubbasmithredneck 11 months, 1 week ago

yo moma!!! You just mad cause they are coming after your racist republican tea party loving butt next!!!! hahahaha

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FryarTuk 11 months, 1 week ago

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

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bubbasmithredneck 11 months, 1 week ago

They did their jobs......thats what they were supposed to do.....if they didnt, you would complain about that too!!

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gotanyfacts 11 months, 1 week ago

Now, now Sister... you must be patient with those with limited abilities.

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gotanyfacts 11 months, 1 week ago

Not to strain your logic but, when did the job of the IRS become intimidating the administration's political opponents. I believe you are confusing America with the Soviet Union. Or, is that what you think Obama has accomplished?

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YDoICare 11 months, 1 week ago

One thing that I have yet to see in any reports from any media outlet are questions about why Congress apparently chose to allow this profiling to take place. LoneCycler is correct in respect to the Treasury and Cabinet connection to the President, but authority over the IRS is actually more complicated because in 1998 Congress created a 9 person Independent Oversight Board for the IRS. While 7 members are chosen by the President (the original terms were 5 years but may have changed), the Senate must confirm each nomination and that Board reports to committee in the Senate. The 1998 Act also created the National Taxpayer Advocate office which submits annual reports to Congress. In previous years, those reports have emphasized the complexity of the tax code and the ever increasing chances of fraud and corruption whether intentional or unintentional. The Executive Branch may take action through the Treasury or via the Government Accountability Office reports which are conducted for every federal agency. The Senate would have to be the lead with anything from the Oversight Board. Both Chambers, however, would have the initial reports from the NTA, and Congress is the only branch of the federal government with the authority to enact the NTA recommendations to lessen the possibility or in this case the probability of profiling fraud. NTA reports to Congress are public record, and they have contained information on loopholes and frauds for years, and while the Executive Branch can take action regarding guilty individuals Congress is the branch who must and probably already should have addressed the issue years ago.

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bubbasmithredneck 11 months, 1 week ago

Sister Ruby and gotanyfacts......YOU ARE NEXT!!! GET EM' IRS!!!!

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