McClatchy: IRS targeting of conservatives may go beyond tax-exempt applications

posted at 8:41 am on May 31, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Could the situation at the IRS get any worse?  McClatchy joins CBS News in postulating that the scandal may well expand to more than just applications for tax-exempt status. Both news agencies are starting to take complaints about predatory and punitive audits and other actions and put them into a very ugly pattern — and ask some very difficult questions of the Obama administration:

While the developing scandal over the targeting of conservatives by the tax agency has largely focused to date on its scrutiny of groups with words such as “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, these examples suggest the government was looking at a broader array of conservative groups and perhaps individuals. Their collective experiences at a minimum could spread skepticism about the fairness of a powerful agency that should be above reproach and at worst could point to a secret political vendetta within the government against conservatives.

The emerging stories from real people raise questions about whether the IRS scrutiny extended beyond applicants for tax-exempt status and whether individuals who donated to these tax-exempt organizations or to conservative causes also were targeted.

Former IRS leaders have apologized for inappropriate scrutiny of conservative organizations. They haven’t to date, however, divulged who developed the criteria, how they were developed or when and how they extended to groups associated with conservative causes that didn’t have “tea party,” “patriot” or similar catchwords in their names.

Widening congressional investigations and federal lawsuits are likely to reveal more about the scope and intent of the inappropriate treatment of conservative groups by the IRS. The House Ways and Means Committee plans a hearing Tuesday to allow victims to testify for the first time. In earlier hearings, one IRS official pleaded the Fifth to avoid answering questions.

McClatchy includes the case of Catherine Engelbrecht, which CBS News’ Sharyl Attkisson co-reported yesterday.  That case, of course, goes far beyond the IRS; Engelbrecht’s business got harassed by the FBI, ATF, and OSHA as well, which would mean coordination far above the Treasury Department.  They also include the case of an anti-abortion group that was told they couldn’t picket Planned Parenthood locations if they wanted to keep their exemption, and a Nebraska veteran who got hassled in an IRS audit over his donations to his church once he began donating to conservative causes.

That may end up being the undercard next week, however.  The House Oversight Committee will hold hearings over the next two weeks to take testimony from the low-level employees in Cincinnati that Lois Lerner and her former bosses Douglas Shulman and Steven Miller tried to turn into scapegoats:

House investigators will interview four Internal Revenue Service employees over the next two weeks, POLITICO has learned.

The House Ways and Means and Oversight committees hope the four front-line employees from the agency’s Cincinnati office will help lawmakers better understand how the IRS targeting of conservative groups first began.

A committee aide declined to name the employees to be interviewed. But House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said earlier this month he wants the IRS to make available five employees for transcribed interviews including John Shafer, a screening group manager, Gary Muthert, a screener in the tax-exempt division, Liz Hofacre, a former case coordinator from April to October 2010, and Joseph Herr, a former advocacy group manager.

What will be the likelihood that these five will fall on swords and swear that no one told them to target these groups?   I’d put the odds on the low side for that outcome.

John Eastman wants a closer look at an already-known outrage in this scandal, too (via Instapundit):

In March of 2012 the Human Rights Campaign published a confidential tax return of the National Organization for Marriage, which was immediately republished byThe Huffington Post and other liberal news media outlets. The HRC and NOM are the leading national groups on opposing sides of the fight over gay marriage. HRC wants to redefine marriage to make it genderless, while NOM wishes to preserve marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

My organization was not the only conservative-linked political group or business that appears to have faced shady actions from IRS employees. ProPublica reported this week that the IRS handed over to them confidential documents of nine conservative organizations whose applications for non-profit status were still pending. Among them: Crossroads GPS, a key group backing Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Our case was particularly egregious because the IRS leak of confidential information fed directly into an ongoing political battle. For months before March 2012, the pro-gay marriage HRC had been demanding that my group, NOM, publicly identify its major donors, something that NOM and many other non-profits refuse to do. The reason is simple. In the past, gay marriage advocates have used such information to launch campaigns of intimidation against traditional marriage supporters. …

At this stage, nobody is accusing the White House or the Obama re-election campaign of illegal activity. But there is a serious question about whether there was communication or possible collusion between the IRS and the HRC, and if there was, whether anyone at the White House or the Obama re-election campaign was involved.

It is imperative that congressional investigators get to the bottom of the issue. If the IRS can get away with leaking NOM’s confidential tax return to its chief political opponent, then no taxpayer is safe from political retribution by the federal government.

The retribution part has already been established.  We need to know who ordered it, and how that information got networked.

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“For me, it’s about collaboration.” —National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley on the relationship between the anti-Tea Party IRS union and the Obama White House

Why isn’t there more outrage on the fact that their is an IRS employee union? What’s the problem with their workplace? Too many papercuts?

monalisa on May 31, 2013 at 2:06 PM


By HAVING SHULMAN hand carrying Documents to Obama’s People, 157 TIMES, there was NO RECORD OF THE TRANSFER!


PhillupSpace on May 31, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Well now, that will give Holder a legitimate leak to investigate!

eyesights on May 31, 2013 at 3:09 PM

It wasn’t a one-off. It wasn’t a president losing his temper with some steel executives. There was no enemies list, unless you consider half the country to be your enemies.

Schadenfreude on May 31, 2013 at 3:56 PM

PhillupSpace on May 31, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Dude. I’m sitting right here.

CurtZHP on May 31, 2013 at 4:04 PM

She’s a liar. Just another Obama goon thug

SparkPlug on May 31, 2013 at 4:50 PM

PhillupSpace on May 31, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Dude. I’m sitting right here.

CurtZHP on May 31, 2013 at 4:04 PM

All caps is aggravating, but I can’t blame PhillupSpace. The audacity of this criminal administration makes me want to YELL too.

It’s tar and feathers ridden out on a rail time.

jazzuscounty on May 31, 2013 at 5:01 PM

It wasn’t a one-off. It wasn’t a president losing his temper with some steel executives. There was no enemies list, unless you consider half the country to be your enemies.

Schadenfreude on May 31, 2013 at 3:56 PM

From the link:

There may even be a few stories about people who stood up and said: “You know you’re targeting Americans because they hold political views you don’t like, right? You know that’s wrong, right? And I’m not going to do it.”

It would be worth an investigation that breaks open the IRS to find that person, and that moment. You have no idea how much better it would make us feel, how inspiring and comforting, too. — Peggy Noonan

Peggy is living in la-la land — anyone refusing to perform their “duties” would become the next target of an illegal action, and they knew it, since that’s what they were already being told to do.

But if there are any rebels in the ranks, now is the time for them to step forward, and to get another job lined up for after the Congressional investigation. If they wait too long to speak up, it will be to late to get protection, because the country will have moved on, but the partisans never forget a slight.

AesopFan on May 31, 2013 at 7:19 PM

From Dr. Reynolds, Instapundit from a couple of weeks ago.
“I’m quite surprised that no one has mentioned Section 1203 of the Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, which mandates terminations of IRS employees who commit any of what are known in the Service as the 10 Deadly Sins.’ . . . At any rate, you’ll notice that several of these provisions could be applicable in the present instance, notably (b) (2), (b) (3) (A), and (b) (7). If I were Ms. Lerner, Mr. Miller (who relied heavily on 6103 in his testimony), or anyone in that chain, 1203 would be a huge concern. It is for every Service employee, which is why I and others were always very cautious about taking unapproved initiative in areas that skated close to 1203.”
Plus, why the delays should have been noticed by higher-ups: “To have a statutory or Internal Revenue Manual deadline like 270 days to process something and to blow past without consequences is inconceivable to me. The day that thing went overage, the manager gets a report, and the employee gets asked why. The manager would keep getting reports until it was fixed, and if it wasn’t fixed soon, the SAC would be on the phone, because he or she is getting the same report, and his or her performance report (and bonuses) is on the line.”

amr on May 31, 2013 at 10:19 PM

IRS motto: We’re the IRS, and we hate you, too!

claudius on May 31, 2013 at 10:19 PM

PhillupSpace on May 31, 2013 at 2:22 PM

You may have a point there. Regular visits like that indicate message-carrying, not normal business.

virgo on May 31, 2013 at 11:51 PM

There isn’t any doubt the IRS has become the liberal Gestapo.. Wrecking havoc on any group or person they deem illegitimate, (conservative, libertarian, or just plain NOT liberal).

The only question is,.. was that vile thug of a president in the loop?.. or did Jarret indulge in her own personal jihad. There is no way in Hell that Obama’s minions can scapegoat this on career lower level IRS employees, when it didn’t start in full swing until the first year of his presidency.

Boehner and I agree for once..

“who’s going to jail?”

This cannot be permitted by any decent American who believes in a fair and free democratic republic, which clearly leaves out anyone desperate to cover this up. The more the alphabet networks cover this, the more the left wing can’t claim it’s a huge nothing.

Who knew America had it’s very own homegrown set of fascists willing to persecute and destroy people for just speaking their mind?

just about everyone here.. but now the broader public gets to see just what “hope and change”, and “transformational” government is.

The hardcore left wing once in power, building an infrastructure inside the federal government to create a one party fascist state. So smugly certain, they could keep it secret, with a media so adoringly covering up all it’s scandals, they never thought there was a line too much for them to swallow.

Gut check time Media..

What are you first?


or party loyalist thugs? The NYT’s and Wapo, Huffpo.. MSNBC are clearly on the thug side, and doubling down. How many of them were also directly linked in targeting Americans?.. and BTW.. IRS if you’re going after anyone who is a member here..

F… Y..

I’m retired, and don’t claim anything past standard deductions, so go ahead and audit me, and if social security is in on it,.. I’m sure the class action suit against them will be epic. Is there ANY federal agency these fascist scumbags didn’t weaponize?

Every Obama cretin in on this, should never see daylight outside a federal prison for the rest of their treasonous lives… and that includes Obama.. his second first.. the first POTUS who has committed open treason against his country.

mark81150 on June 1, 2013 at 5:34 AM

IRS motto: We’re the IRS, and we hate you, too!

claudius on May 31, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Lernher’s imperious attitude, her my stuff don’t stink nose in the air arrogance to sitting Congressmen… should be the first clue to many not beforte paying attention. The very people who have oversight over her job.. and she treats them as uppity peasants who splashed mud on the imperial gown.

This should enrage rank and file democrats as well,.. their Congressman treated as an underling by a civil servant? and they want MORE of these power hungry egomaniac’s?

Real democrats under the old classic liberal standard will be outraged, but the party hijacking progressive douchebags?..

The biggest scandal of all, is the corrupt media’s favorite meme of a GOP increasingly extreme on the right..

When the only extremist hijacking has been the socialists and communists infiltrating the DNC all the way to Obama… as the media screamed “squirrel” at the GOP. Since McGovern.. the lunatic left has been in charge of the democrat party,.. but they call us extreme..

Every position we’re fighting them over now, at one time, was a bipartisan one shared by both parties… now,.. after having jettisoned every mainstream position to appease the extremist left, they still maintain the only people moving towards extremism, is the one party which hasn’t made any such major changes..

Bobby.. JFK, LBJ,.. Truman.. were ALL fierce anti-communists..

try finding any major league democrat now who will publicly endorse that view..

just one.

Oh they’ll attack individual reds like Stalin… but not Mao, or Castro, or Chavez.. or the entire philosophy.

but yeah buddy… being for smaller government and fair taxes makes you a threat to civilization.. that they can shout from the roof tops.. Al Qaeda,, they speak about “root causes” that must be addressed.. Americans who disagree with them.. are enemies of the state on targeted enemies lists.. and they’d cut their own wrists before addressing the root causes there..

but just being a member of the Son’s of Reagan.. my personal name for the vets who served during his presidency, who hasn’t changed any major views in 30 years, is a threat and an extremist. For holding most of the same views JFK did.

Lower taxes.. anti-communist.. belief in God…

Tom Brokaw finds those extreme. as well as my party… and that idiot is supposed to be a trustworthy news source?

mark81150 on June 1, 2013 at 6:00 AM

At this stage, nobody is accusing the White House or the Obama re-election campaign of illegal activity.

Am I the first? This was and is a coordinated all out attack on conservatives using every agency of the US government.

Zero ordered this and the RINOs in congress are enabling him to crush THEIR opposition too. They all see the Tea Party as dangerous to their preferred lifestyle.

dogsoldier on June 1, 2013 at 7:32 AM

What will be the likelihood that these five will fall on swords and swear that no one told them to target these groups? I’d put the odds on the low side for that outcome.

I wouldn’t. Not if they know what’s good for them and their families.

runawayyyy on June 3, 2013 at 11:42 AM