Open thread: Obama to address IRS scandal at 6 p.m. ET; Update: More than 75% of donations at Cincinnati IRS office went to Democrats; Update: Acting IRS commissioner resigns; Update: Was resigning anyway?
posted at 5:47 pm on May 15, 2013 by Allahpundit
Here’s all you need to know, really:
Obama to deliver statement on IRS mess at 6pm ET, will feign outrage on behalf of conservative groups he’s demonized for 5 years.
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) May 15, 2013
While we wait, let’s chew on some of the other claims of IRS bias out there. I’m leery of touting any single group’s allegations but the Thomas More Society has looked at the following and evidently thinks there’s enough evidence to justify taking on the Coalition for Life of Iowa as a client. No one’s alleging an agency-wide pro-choice policy, but this may well illustrate the tremendous power individual IRS agents have to quietly discourage political activity of which they disapprove. The news about tea-party groups being targeted gets headlines because it’s about systematic bias, but how often does the particular bias of an, ahem, “rogue” employee cause delays or denials for disfavored orgs?
In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent “Ms. Richards” told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood. Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved. After a series of letters following a request for more invasive information, Thomas More Society special counsel Sally Wagenmaker sent a letter to the IRS demanding the tax exempt status be issued immediately…
In another similar case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for charitable tax-exempt recognition of Christian Voices for Life, questioning the group’s involvement with “40 Days for Life” and “Life Chain” events. The Fort Bend County, Texas, organization was subjected to repeated and lengthy unconstitutional requests for information about the viewpoint and content of its educational communications, volunteer prayer vigils, and other protected activities.
Two cases doesn’t prove a “policy” but it’s a start. More on this, please. Meanwhile, here’s a pro tip from a former Republican National Committee staffer: If you change the name of your organization to something that sounds more liberal, it might just speed up your approval time. Go figure:
He submitted the paperwork to the IRS in July 2011 for a news site called Media Trackers, which calls itself a “non-partisan investigative watchdog dedicated to promoting accountability in the media and government.” Although the site has investigated Republicans like Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, the site’s organizers are unapologetically conservative…
When September 2012 arrived with still no word from the IRS, Ryun determined that Media Trackers would likely never obtain standalone non-profit status, and he tried a new approach: Starting over. He applied for permanent non-profit status for a separate group called Greenhouse Solutions, a pre-existing organization that was reaching the end of its determination period.
The IRS approved Greenhouse Solutions’ request for non-profit status in three weeks…
In December 2012, Ryun simply made Media Trackers a project of Greenhouse Solutions and withdrew the Media Trackers application.
If you’re planning to apply for 501(c)(4) status for your own group, replace “tea party” or “patriot” with “occupy” and see how you do. It might spare you from having to submit the names of children your group is trying to help. Good lord.
Update: Tim Carney looks at the donations records for IRS employees in Cincinnati and finds a lesson about big government. Whether or not the White House was handing down directives, when federal power is as broad as it is now, partisan abuse by cogs in the state’s machinery is inevitable. Smoking gun?
In the past three election cycles, the Center for Responsive Politics’ database shows about $474,000 in political donations by individuals listing “IRS” or “Internal Revenue Service” as their employer.
This money heavily favors Democrats: $247,000 to $145,000, with the rest going to political action committees. (Oddly, half of those GOP donations come from only two IRS employees, one in Houston and one in Annandale, Va.)
IRS employees also gave $67,000 to the PAC of the National Treasury Employees Union, which in turn gave more than 96 percent of its contributions to Democrats. Add the PAC cash to the individual donations and IRS employees favor Democrats 2-to-1.
The Cincinnati office where the political targeting took place is much more partisan, judging by FEC filings. More than 75 percent of the campaign contributions from that office in the past three elections went to Democrats. In 2012, every donation traceable to employees at that office went to either President Obama or liberal Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
As someone noted on Twitter in response to Carney’s post, if you’ve made your career working in government — especially at the IRS — you have a heavy political interest in protecting the party of big government.
Update: The first head rolls: O announces that Steve Miller, acting commissioner of the IRS and a man who’s known for a year about the agency’s targeting of conservatives, is out. Worth noting, though: Miller wasn’t commissioner when most of the targeting occurred. That was Doug Shulman, who left in November.
Update: So the Miller resignation effectively meant nothing.
‘Lew took the first step by requesting and accepting the resignation of the acting director of the IRS,’ Obama said.
‘It’s important,’ he added, ‘to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward.’
But in an email to IRS employees, Miller claimed he would only be leaving next month because his assignment would be over.
‘It is with regret that I will be departing from the IRS as my acting assignment ends in early June,’ Miller wrote. ‘This has been an incredibly difficult time for the IRS given the events of the past few days, and there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation’s tax agency.’