IRS also targeting Jewish groups for extra scrutiny?

posted at 10:41 am on May 14, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Duane linked an earlier report on the travails of the pro-Israel lobbying group Z Street and the IRS in the Green Room, but now Politico has also picked it up as part of the expanding IRS scandal.  Unlike the Tea Party/conservative targeting where evidence shows a widespread effort to harass political opposition to the Obama administration, the Z Street story only involved one application …. at least at first.  Politico’s Josh Gerstein hints that there was a pattern here, too:

The same Internal Revenue Service office that singled out Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny also challenged Israel-related organizations, at least one of which filed suit over the agency’s handling of its application for tax-exempt status.

The trouble for the Israel-focused groups seems to have had different origins than that experienced by conservative groups, but at times the effort seems to have been equally ham-handed.

A leader of one of the organizations involved, Lori Lowenthal Marcus of Z Street, said Monday that she was convinced the added attention her group got was no accident.

The IRS initially responded to a lawsuit filed by Z Street that it was applying extra scrutiny to tax-exempt applications for groups ties to the Middle East because of the heightened risk of assisting terror-related groups.  For some reason, this included Israel, at least in this initial response:

“Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a ‘higher risk of terrorism,’” wrote Jon Waddell, manager of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Determinations Group. “A referral to TAG is appropriate whenever an application mentions providing resources to organizations in a country with a higher risk of terrorism.”

However, Z Street and other groups reported getting unusual inquiries from the IRS. A Z Street lawyer was contacted by a Jewish religious group, which detailed inquiries from the IRS that the group’s leaders thought had treaded too far.

“Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel? Describe your organization’s religious belief system towards the land of Israel,” the IRS asked in a letter sent to the religious group, which asked not to be named.

It’s possible that question was intended to screen out organizations opposed to Israel, and therefore at least theoretically more likely to be affiliated with terrorist groups.  But asking about religious beliefs as the basis of evaluating tax-exempt status would be a bridge too far, as would be predicating approval on only those political positions the IRS sees fit to endorse.  And we’re certainly seeing that in the main scandal, where the IRS targeted conservative groups on the basis of their politics.

Now, however, the IRS denies they told Z Street any of the above:

In court papers, the IRS denied that its personnel ever told Z Street that there was a special review for groups that might be at odds with Obama administration policy. The tax agency contended that the issue was whether the groups might violate “public policy” — a legal term of art for the notion that the government shouldn’t bestow a benefit on an individual or organization engaged in illegal activity like terrorism, or in an officially disfavored activity such as racial discrimination.

“The application was not transferred to TAG because of an ‘Israel special policy’ or because Z Street’s views on Israel contradict the Obama administration’s views on Israel,” the Justice Department wrote in a brief seeking dismissal of Z Street’s lawsuit.

Yes, and we should believe this, because, er … the IRS has been so honest about their actions so far.

It’s yet another evidence set showing that the IRS has become so politicized that it presents a grave threat to political speech and liberty.  Next question: how do we solve the problem?  Hint: Sensible campaign finance reform that eliminates artificial categories and limits for donations and instead requires full and immediate disclosure to parties and candidates would be a great start.

Update: Did the IRS also target pro-life groups for harassment?  I’d say that these kinds of questions will be popping up for the next few weeks.

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Im not surprised at all, sorry to say. We have a lawless, imperial president who is drunk with power. Rand Paul is correct.

Philly on May 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Deja Vu: IRS boss of Tea Party probes targeted anti-Clinton group in 1990s

Steven T. Miller, the acting IRS commissioner who managed the division that has admitted targeting anti-Obama Tea Party groups, was one of several agents who investigated anti-Clinton organizations including Judicial Watch during that Democrat’s administration, according to court documents and interviews.

Miller, who headed the IRS Services and Enforcement Division from 2009 until the end of last year, is named in court documents as part of a trio of Internal Revenue Service officials who allegedly characterized the 1998-2001 investigation of Judicial Watch as politically motivated.

According to court papers, one agent in the case reportedly told the legal watchdog group, “What do you expect when you sue the president?” Miller reportedly added that the Judicial Watch audit, coming after the group sent the White House a lengthy Freedom of Information Act request, “had created at least the appearance of a problem.”

Resist We Much on May 14, 2013 at 12:00 PM

It’s very old news- after 9/11, the Feds shut down a number of Islamic organizations in the US; groups that were actively raising funds for known terrorist organizations under the guise of ‘humanitarian nonprofits’.

The Jewish community fully supports this federal policy, so the right can stop it’s fantasy of victimization that included Jews.

bayam on May 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM

You’ll want to concentrate on the word “news”. Did the IRS create a secret group to monitor those islamic orgs and then lie at every level when discovered?

The question remains: If all of these IRS actions are lawful and aboveboard then why is everyone lying about it? Why is everyone involved so desperate to hide their deeds?

Bishop on May 14, 2013 at 12:01 PM

Played down here is the fact the Z Street application was handled by a law office. Who kept very good records of the entire matter. And which immediately recognized the unusual turn the application took.

pat on May 14, 2013 at 12:09 PM

bayam on May 14, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Pointing that out in your comment would be helpful, along with a link. (Since what you are referencing is found nowhere within any of the links in the post above.)

GWB on May 14, 2013 at 12:10 PM

I don’t believe that the IRS has targeted any of these. If you have evidence of such, bring it forward, and I’ll denounce it. If you don’t, then stop whining.

Chris of Rights on May 14, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Of course the IRS hasn’t. Its just hypothetical BS intended to distract and put people here on the defensive, defending themselves against the things the troll is implying and alleging they would say if a hypothetical that has not happened were to happen.

It is a classic troll tactic to change the subject, assume the offensive, put its target group on the defensive, and disrupt conversation about something it does not want to talk about.

HA’s race bating Marxist bigoted retread troll did the same thing on another thread.

farsighted on May 14, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Bottomline, if there is anything that you do or support that is contrary to the Admin’s stated policy, you are the enemy and more to be feared than ragheads actually running around shouting “allawho ackbar” and maiming/killing folks. Doesn’t matter if you have the constitutional right to disagree.

Pro-Life? Anti-govt
Anti-Tax? Anti-govt
Pro-Gun? Anti-Govt
Anti-OboobiCare? Anti-Govt
Pro-Vet? Anti-Govt
Anti-Immigration? Anti-Govt
Anti-Union? Anti-Govt
Anti-Oboobi? Anti-Govt

etc, etc. Remember, anyone that Oboobi at any given time once identified as an enemy is indeed the enemy and the appropriate fed agency unleashed to make it necessairly expensive and possibly jaiable if push comes to shove

AH_C on May 14, 2013 at 1:02 PM


The fact that the fellow who was in charge of the IRS at one point was a Bush appointee is completely irrelevant. The behavior was still wrong, and many of the folks here (who likely voted for Bush) are calling for him to be held accountable for his (and the IRS’) wrongful actions. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle he was on — these actions are deplorable.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove on May 14, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Even if the Won is impeached, it makes no difference. Biden or some other compliant Democrat will become president, the debt will still spiral, Washington will still be out of control, Congress will still be 535 midgets, mental and physical, ObamaCare will still be implemented, Holder will still be AG, the IRS/FCC/SEC/EPA will still be staffed with the progressive pigs who are under scrutiny now and will still target anyone who wishes to change the status quo, regardless of party affliation or label.

If I had to make a cynical guess, members of the compliant media knew most if not all of this before the election, but were so determined that the nation’s course would not be reversed that they buried it. The faux outrage we are seeing in WaPo, NYT, ABC, is very probably what is left of their conscience seeking absolution for electing this man and flushing what’s left of the country down the drain.

It is fun to see the AP’s faux rage, though. They didn’t offer up a hostage/relative to the West Wing to ensure their compliance, so they are targeted. HA HA HA HA HA. Chicago rules.

jclittlep on May 14, 2013 at 2:00 PM

It’s very old news- after 9/11, the Feds shut down a number of Islamic organizations in the US; groups that were actively raising funds for known terrorist organizations under the guise of ‘humanitarian nonprofits’.

LOL. Comparing islamic groups who are anti-American and connected to islam which is anti-American – anti-anything not islamic, frankly to Jewish groups that are connected to one of America’s strongest and most steadfast allies is just par for the course for you. You are a lowlife POS with a pea brain that can barely keep you breathing on your own.

The Jewish community fully supports this federal policy, so the right can stop it’s fantasy of victimization that included Jews.

bayam on May 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Self-hating Jewish leftists (admittedly a large percentage) support Barky and support anti-Israel groups. That is NOT the “Jewish community” though and those self-hating leftist Jews do everything they can to distance themselves from Judaism … except to use their last remnants of Jewishness when it’s politically expedient to give some sort of moral authority to their anti-Jewish, anti-Israel positions.

Don’t ever try to compare muslim groups to any sane group again, especially not in connection to anything pro-Western, you despicable, lying scumbag. You love your America-hating, ineligible, 84 IQ, Dog-Eating Indonesian who thinks he’s the new Sukarno. Good for you. We all know who and what you are. You belong in the third world rather being allowed to fundamentally deform America into it.

History will record you and yours as the most pathetic wastes of human flesh to ever walk the face of the Earth. Rest assured in that.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 14, 2013 at 2:09 PM


Why state Land of Israel in this bogus question anyway…

Last I checked Israel was a country.

Does your organization support the existence of The Land of the United States?

Does your organization support the questionable acquisitions by the Land of the United States of the disputed territories of California,Arizona,Utah,New Mexico,Texas and Oklahoma?

workingclass artist on May 14, 2013 at 11:24 AM

I noticed more than that, too. My first thought on the Tea Party questions was that the questions were created by someone a bit dull. Lots of little things.

Provide copies of your website that your members can only access.

^That wasn’t even proof-read.

Your “Land of Israel” might be a political statement, though. The modern anti-Jew people hate acknowledging the existence of the nation of Israel. Maybe “land of Israel” is as far away as they could get while still being able to ask the question, without resorting to the Muslim-world’s “non-entity.”

Axe on May 14, 2013 at 2:45 PM


Axe on May 14, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Next question: how do we solve the problem?

All ready answered this question eleventy-million times.

Axe on May 14, 2013 at 2:48 PM

“The emperor has no clothes!” Eewww, sorry about that…

kirkill on May 14, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Barky had a special IRS Joooooo harassment squad? There’s a shocker.

Philly on May 14, 2013 at 5:44 PM