As much as the President and his supporters would like, the IRS scandal is not behind us, yet.
A new report from the chairman of the House Oversight Committee on the IRS’s targeting conservative and Tea Party groups for added scrutiny of their tax-exempt applications appears to put to rest the claim by progressives that the IRS targeted progressive groups.
The Committee found that only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word “progressive.”All of them were then approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups received unprecedented review and experienced years-long delays. In addition, while some liberal-oriented groups were singled out for scrutiny, it was due to non-political reasons, according to the report.
A few other key points from the report include:
- The IRS treated Tea Party applications distinctly different from other tax-exempt applications.
- The IRS selectively prioritized and produced documents to the Committee to support misleading claims about bipartisan targeting.
- Democratic Members of Congress, made misleading claims that the IRS targeted liberal-oriented groups based on documents selectively produced by the IRS.
- The IRS targeting captured predominantly conservative-oriented applications for tax-exempt status.
- Myth: IRS “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) entries for liberal groups meant that the IRS targeted liberal and progressive groups. Fact: Only Tea Party groups on the BOLO list experienced systematic scrutiny and delay.
Myth: The IRS targeted Occupy groups in a similar manner to Tea Party applicants. Fact: The IRS treated Occupy groups differently than Tea Party applicants. No applications in the IRS backlog contained the words “Occupy.” IRS employees testified that they were not even aware of an Occupy entry on the BOLO list.
So indeed, according to the report, the IRS clearly abused its enormous power to systematically discriminate against groups based on ideological grounds. It’s nice to know that the one of the most powerful federal agencies operates absolutely free from political bias or motives.
To refresh your memory, last May during a speech a high ranking IRS official issued an apology for targeting the tax-exempt applications of conservative groups for added scrutiny. This touched off a fire-storm of criticism and questions about the how far and high reaching this misconduct went. The President and congressional Democrats were quick to denounce the wrong-doing as limited to a few “rogue agents,” but it appeared that knowledge (and implicit approval) were not restricted to these lowly agents and we still need to know how high the scandal reaches.
Later, Democrats shifted from denouncing wrongdoing to claiming this was all a “phony scandal” because progressive groups were targeted just like conservative groups. Finally, the President claimed there wasn’t even a “smidgen” of corruption or even coordinated efforts based on nefarious motives. Then they moved on and the docile press to move on as well.
Conservatives and the House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa refused to just move on. The Committee conducted a series of hearings where they called IRS officials to the mat to explain what they knew and did and when. This report is a roundup of what they learned and we’re we are at—which is back at square one with the report asserting that IRS agents were abusing their power to execute political agendas by stymieing the grassroots and educational efforts of conservative groups.
There have been some retirements and departures. Some conservative have now finally had their applications approved after years of invasive questioning and tens –perhaps hundreds- of thousands of dollars.
Two injustices have occurred here. The most direct is against conservative and Tea Party groups which were unfairly targeted and wrung through the ringer. The second is by the Administration and liberals in Congress who are trying to put the kibosh on efforts to get at the truth.
Americans deserve the truth and this report appears to be a giant step towards getting it, but will anyone be held accountable?