Posted on | April 8, 2014 | 13 Comments
A new report from House Republicans sheds more light on the early stages of tea-party targeting by the Internal Revenue Service, identifying the first three cases sent to Washington for special review in 2010.
The report also underscores the difficulties the targeted groups faced. Two of the three dropped their applications in the face of IRS questioning, the report shows. A third is waiting for a resolution of its case, a spokesman said.
The GOP report, the latest salvo in a protracted political battle in Washington, is aimed at refuting Democrats’ argument that liberal groups also were targeted by the IRS over recent years. The report by aides to Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, emphasizes that the targeting began as an IRS inquiry solely into tea-party groups. It also contends that subsequent efforts by IRS officials to make the review more neutral were little more than cosmetic changes, and the basic focus on conservative grassroots groups remained.
Although IRS documents showed the agency also was on the lookout for applications by some liberal-leaning groups, “only Tea Party applicants received systematic scrutiny because of their political beliefs,” the new report says. In addition, “public and nonpublic analyses of IRS data show that the IRS routinely approved liberal applications while holding and scrutinizing conservative applications.”
The entire report by the House Oversight Committee’s Republican staff is online (PDF) and the Executive Summary says:
- IRS’s three “test” cases were all conservative organizations: Prescott Tea Party, American Junto, the Albuquerque Tea Party. (pp. 14-18)
- Congressional Democrats made misleading claims about the targeting. Democratic Members of Congress, including Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member Sander Levin, and Representative Gerry Connolly, made misleading claims that the IRS targeted liberal-oriented groups based on documents selectively produced by the IRS. (pp. 7-13)
- IRS selectively released documents supporting the misleading claims. The IRS cited 6103 protections for taxpayer information to withhold details about the targeting from the American public, but reversed its decision in August 2013 to release information helpful to its cause. (pp. 11)
- MYTH: Progressive groups were also targeted.Only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word “progressive,” all of which were then approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups received unprecedented review and experienced years-long delays. While some liberal-oriented groups were singled out for scrutiny, evidence shows it was due to non-political reasons. (pp. 32-35)
- MYTHS: False Democratic claims of political targeting about specific groups exposed: Where the IRS identified liberal-oriented groups for scrutiny, evidence shows that it did so for objective, non-political reasons and not because of the groups’ political beliefs. (p.32)
- ACORN groups – IRS employees testified that former ACORN affiliates were scrutinized out of concern that they were old organizations improperly applying as new ones and not because of their political beliefs. (pp. 40–42)
- Emerge America – IRS employees testified that Emerge Groups were scrutinized after some had already been approved and the IRS became concerned about improper private benefit – not because of their political beliefs. (pp. 42–44)
- Occupy Wall Street – The Committee has found no evidence that the IRS subjected Occupy applicants to burdensome and intrusive information requests or even seen evidence that “Occupy Wall Street” or an affiliate organization applied to the IRS for non-profit status. (pp. 44–45)
Again, you can read the full report (PDF). My interpretation is that Democrats who have repeated claims that there was no political bias in the IRS are essentially part of a cover-up effort. And make no mistake: There was (and still is) a cover-up. You can read more background on that in my 2,500-word report, “The IRS Outrage,” from the March issue of The American Spectator.