IRS targeted groups for “anti-Obama rhetoric”?

posted at 8:41 am on September 18, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Did the IRS take it upon itself to enforce lèse-majesté — or did the White House demand it?  USA Today uncovered internal IRS documents from 2011 that show targeting of groups for “anti-Obama rhetoric” and “emotional” statements by non-profits:

Newly uncovered IRS documents show the agency flagged political groups based on the content of their literature, raising concerns specifically about “anti-Obama rhetoric,” inflammatory language and “emotional” statements made by non-profits seeking tax-exempt status.

The internal 2011 documents, obtained by USA TODAY, list 162 groups by name, with comments by Internal Revenue Service lawyers in Washington raising issues about their political, lobbying and advocacy activities. In 21 cases, those activities were characterized as “propaganda.”

The 2011 date has one interesting parallel.  Two years ago (almost to the day), the White House rolled out its own version of a lèse-majesté intimidation mechanism — “Attack Watch.”  That didn’t last long in the sunlight, after widespread criticism and derision forced the White House to shelve it, although the Obama campaign tried to bring it back in February 2012 as the “Truth Team.”

So, did the IRS just feel inspired by Attack Watch, or did the White House just transfer the effort?  The date on the IRS document is November 16, 2011, well after Attack Watch became more or less moribund in the public eye.

Supposedly, the IRS was concerned about “propaganda” in its attempt to enforce 501(c)(4) status, but the actual tax law doesn’t mention “propaganda” as a barrier to tax-exempt status:

“The political motivations of this are so patently obvious, but then to have a document that spells it out like this is very damaging to the IRS,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ. “I hope the FBI has seen these documents.”

The IRS categorized the groups as engaging in several advocacy-related activities that could have barred them from tax-exempt status, such as lobbying and “propaganda.”

But the word “propaganda” doesn’t appear in section 501(c)(4), which governs the social welfare status that most Tea Party groups were applying for, said John Colombo, a law professor at the University of Illinois. Instead, it appears in section 501(c)(3), which governs public charities.

“There would be no reason I would think to flag them if it’s for a 501(c)(4) status,” Colombo said. “That’s very odd to me.”

The IRS targeted 162 groups in this effort, of which only 11 were liberal groups, according to USA Today.  Jeff Dunetz predicts that Democrats in Congress will claim that this demonstrates even-handedness by the IRS, but don’t be fooled:

Liberals will be happy to learn that out of the 162 groups mentioned on the 2011 documents at least 11 of them are progressive organizations, giving them the ability to say, “See they weren’t targeting conservative groups.” …

What the report doesn’t show is which of these groups eventually were approved and the difference in waiting times between the conservative and progressive organizations. Either way the ratio of conservative/progressive organizations targeted indicate that there was something rotten going on in the IRS offices in DC.

When the IRS starts targeting political dissent for scrutiny, they have stopped being a revenue collector and have become instead a political enforcer.  That’s dangerous for all Americans, and Congress needs to demand and enforce immediate reform in the IRS.  They also need to find out who ordered the targeting, regardless of how high up it goes.


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Nice Il Douche pic of Obama.

Paul-Cincy on September 18, 2013 at 8:44 AM

The IRS targeted 162 groups in this effort, of which only 11 were liberal groups, according to USA Today. Jeff Dunetz predicts that Democrats in Congress will claim that this demonstrates even-handedness by the IRS, but don’t be fooled

Right, because nothing says even-handed like 6.8% of the groups targeted being liberal.

Doughboy on September 18, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Is “Gestapo tactics” too strong? Maybe, but we can definitely go with “Goodfella’s tactics”.

BettyRuth on September 18, 2013 at 8:46 AM

These are dark times.

p0s3r on September 18, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Enough analysis. They are still doing it. Congress – DO SOMETHING!

sheeesh.

TerryW on September 18, 2013 at 8:47 AM

When the IRS starts targeting political dissent for scrutiny, they have stopped being a revenue collector and have become instead a political enforcer.

Liberals talk about “voter suppression” such as in Colorado last week. And yet the Obama admin may have tilted the 2012 Presidential election in his favor, and there’s not a single mention of “voter suppression” in that connection.

Paul-Cincy on September 18, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Does anyone really believe anything will be done here?
I swear, we are only a few more “incidents” away from
a rebellion…..yeah right, like that will ever happen.
Too many sideline watchers and not enough doers.
Not that I’m anything special, just one of the many disgusted
occupants of a once great nation.

wolfplus3 on September 18, 2013 at 8:48 AM

In other words, Blaspheeeeeeemers!

Ben Hur on September 18, 2013 at 8:48 AM

BettyRuth on September 18, 2013 at 8:46 AM

With the MSM refusing to cover this, it’s tough to discuss with LIVs without sounding like we’re exaggerating.

forest on September 18, 2013 at 8:48 AM

The fact that there is not a serious movement in Congress to eliminate the IRS shows that both parties are ok with having politics in the IRS as long as the lobbyist money keep flowing.

Every day I think that my disgust level with our federal government couldn’t get higher, and every day I’m proven wrong.

Chris of Rights on September 18, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Remember way back when there was a political party that forced a president to resign because of a two bit break-in? I’m not saying denying groups their constitutional rights is as bad as that, but maybe, at least some low level employee could get fired for this…without pay?

dirtseller on September 18, 2013 at 8:50 AM

No other president Republican or Democrat could survive these IRS revelations, they would surely be impeached. The MSM reports some of the revelations, then gloss over what they report and omit others. Under any other president, the MSM would be discussing this 24/7 and demanding resignations and impeachment. Does anyone believe a Republican president could have survived this IRS scandal?

Aplombed on September 18, 2013 at 8:51 AM

With the MSM refusing to cover this, it’s tough to discuss with LIVs without sounding like we’re exaggerating.

forest on September 18, 2013 at 8:48 AM

USA Today is pretty MSM-ish. You are correct, but there are definitely cracks beginning to form in the wall around this administration.

Chris of Rights on September 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM

That is about as disturbing as it gets. He is closer to psychopathic than merely narcissistic, as someone here recently observed.

tru2tx on September 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM

and ABCs Diane Sawyer last night troll concerning about scams breaking out as the O’care exchanges are about to open…while I was yelling at the top of my lungs “THE SCAM IS OBAMACARE!”…wife handed over a cold beverage to me to simmer the nerves…

hillsoftx on September 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM

When the IRS starts targeting political dissent for scrutiny, they have stopped being a revenue collector and have become instead a political enforcer. That’s dangerous for all Americans, and Congress needs to demand and enforce immediate reform in the IRS. They also need to find out who ordered the targeting, regardless of how high up it goes

…more… “paid leave of absence”?…soon…there will be no ‘employees’!

KOOLAID2 on September 18, 2013 at 8:53 AM

So the IRS decided to actively investigate based solely on political speech. A special prosecutor is the only way to deal with these people.

MTF on September 18, 2013 at 8:54 AM

With the MSM refusing to cover this, it’s tough to discuss with LIVs without sounding like we’re exaggerating.

forest on September 18, 2013 at 8:48 AM

I heard that. The next person who condescendingly tells me that, “I need to stop watching FOX news” is going to get smacked. hard.

BettyRuth on September 18, 2013 at 8:55 AM

Some propaganda is more equal than other propaganda.

antipc on September 18, 2013 at 8:55 AM

No other president Republican or Democrat could survive these IRS revelations, they would surely be impeached. The MSM reports some of the revelations, then gloss over what they report and omit others. Under any other president, the MSM would be discussing this 24/7 and demanding resignations and impeachment. Does anyone believe a Republican president could have survived this IRS scandal?

Aplombed on September 18, 2013 at 8:51 AM

No other President would’ve survived Benghazi much less the IRS or NSA scandals. The real danger in the Democrat/media complex’s willingness to look the other way in order to protect Obama is that they’re setting a precedent that virtually anything goes now in DC. As arrogant and narcissistic as Obama may be, he would never attempt to do a fraction of what he’s done over the last couple years if he feared any repercussions.

Doughboy on September 18, 2013 at 8:56 AM

hillsoftx on September 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Watch it, you sound a little too emotional. Are you not taking your Soma?

Fenris on September 18, 2013 at 8:57 AM

If I were wealthy enough to fund a massive ad campaign I’d introduce Obama to some real anti-Obama rhetoric.

Charlemagne on September 18, 2013 at 9:00 AM

I’d be willing to bet that if they would release the names of the liberal groups that were targeted, you would find that they were caught up in the IRS dragnet by mistake, not because they were looking for liberal groups…..

supersport667 on September 18, 2013 at 9:05 AM

When the IRS starts targeting political dissent for scrutiny, they have stopped being a revenue collector and have become instead a political enforcer.

They’re the cossacks of the new one party system. That’s not to suggest that access, to the new federal rationed healthcare system, will be based on color or party affiliation. Just because they (irs cossacks) are in charge of it. And because that’s clearly the procedure mandated for every other federal program/agency.

onomo on September 18, 2013 at 9:06 AM

It’s The Chicago Way.

Similar things happen to prominent people and groups in Chicago who engage in “anti-Dem”, “anti-Daley”, or “anti-Rahm” rhetoric.

Local talk radio is about the only place you will find it in the media in Chicagoland. You certainly will not find it in rest of the local MSM.

It is a very rare businessman and/or business owner in Chicago who will say anything negative about the Machine and its operators.

farsighted on September 18, 2013 at 9:08 AM

The IRS holding up the tax status of Tea Party groups is voter suppression, and when liberals accuse conservatives of voter suppression, it is pure projection. Liberals aren’t against voter suppression at all, if it’s to “punish their enemies”, as Obama would say.

Paul-Cincy on September 18, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Did the IRS take it upon itself to enforce lèse-majesté — or did the White House demand it?

Hmmmm. Wonder if the 100+ visits the top-level IRS execs made to the Obama White House had anything to do with this? Probably just a coincidence, right? As is the White House’s efforts to seal their visitor logs from public view. All just a big coincidence.

Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

Except tyranny.

AZCoyote on September 18, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Nothing is going to happen
*sigh*

cmsinaz on September 18, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Surely, some way, some how we can find a way to say………………….Booosshh started it!

Herb on September 18, 2013 at 9:11 AM

Nothing is going to happen
*sigh*

cmsinaz on September 18, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Eventually something may happen. But it’ll probably require a Republican back in White House first. I have a feeling that defunding the IRS could be a major issue in the GOP primaries, especially if Ted Cruz runs.

Doughboy on September 18, 2013 at 9:12 AM

This is not the America I know. The administration is a bully- the Chicago way. Obama’s election is now tainted with Federal agencies denying Americans to voice dissent against a corrupt government! I pray justice will step in and start sending people to jail. This so wrong on so many levels!! Congress are you going to keep sitting on your hands an do nothing?

karlinsync on September 18, 2013 at 9:13 AM

One must not speak ill of the little dictator.

rplat on September 18, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Wow, I haven’t thought about ataaaack waaaaatch in the longest time. Thanks for bringing that chuckle back into my morning.

The Schaef on September 18, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Anything to protect the Dog Eating King, anything. The worst part about the left is their inability to just say “We were wrong about this guy”. Instead they double-down and ignore the criminality, malfeasance, and outright psychopathic behavior of the fud, I guess because admitting being wrong is some sort of crime in liberal land.

Bishop on September 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

…I pray justice will step in and start sending people to jail.

karlinsync on September 18, 2013 at 9:13 AM

People could be sent to jail, but unfortunately not the people you’re thinking of.

Fenris on September 18, 2013 at 9:19 AM

If Bush Had Done This – Part 4,629

mankai on September 18, 2013 at 9:20 AM

The worst part about the left is their inability to just say “We were wrong about this guy”.

Bishop on September 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

What makes you think most leftists think Obama is wrong?

Fenris on September 18, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Works for me doughboy

cmsinaz on September 18, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Congress – DO SOMETHING!

They truly don’t seem to notice or care.

shinty on September 18, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Waiting for my audit notice any day now…

kingsjester on September 18, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Liberals will be happy to learn that out of the 162 groups mentioned on the 2011 documents at least 11 of them are progressive organizations, giving them the ability to say, “See they weren’t targeting conservative groups.”

And I bet those 11 were targeted for criticizing Obama too. The common element here is not that they necessarily targeted conservative groups, but that they targeted any dissent.

The reason the numbers overwhelmingly represent conservative groups is simply because these are more likely to be critical of the dictator.

mankai on September 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM

What makes you think most leftists think Obama is wrong?

Fenris on September 18, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Good point, though maybe by wrong it could be he hasn’t gone full Stalin yet. Either way the guy has become what they hated about Bush or hasn’t become what they loved about Pol Pot.

Bishop on September 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM

It’s hard for me to believe that en masse these government employees just decided to go after the Tea Party. Although the media coverage was wildly inaccurate and biased. This must be what happens when you can’t get fired, no matter what your do.

Cindy Munford on September 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM

The worst part about the left is their inability to just say “We were wrong about this guy”.

Bishop on September 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

11 out of the thousands of Progressive groups had the guts to say it… which is why they were targeted by the IRS.

mankai on September 18, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Yepper mankai

cmsinaz on September 18, 2013 at 9:28 AM

….Congress needs to demand and enforce immediate reform in the IRS. They also need to find out who ordered the targeting, regardless of how high up it goes.

Aaaah, ha-ha-ha-ha ha-ha!!!

Cut it out, Ed, yer killin’ me!

iurockhead on September 18, 2013 at 9:32 AM

That is about as disturbing as it gets. He is closer to psychopathic than merely narcissistic, as someone here recently observed.

tru2tx on September 18, 2013 at 8:52 AM

And we know what happens when people do not speak up about someone with mental problems getting their hands on weapons while circumventing the laws:

Shootings at movie theaters…
Shootings at schools…
Shootings at military instillations…

Arming Syrian rebels??

mechkiller_k on September 18, 2013 at 9:33 AM

What makes you think most leftists think Obama is wrong?

Fenris on September 18, 2013 at 9:21 AM

Good point, though maybe by wrong it could be he hasn’t gone full Stalin yet. Either way the guy has become what they hated about Bush or hasn’t become what they loved about Pol Pot.

Bishop on September 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM

I saw a poll yesterday of university history professors, who overall gave 0 a grade of “B-”

The common complaint was that he hadn’t gone far enough to the left. So, yes, they were disappointed that he hadn’t gone “full Stalin.”

iurockhead on September 18, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Anything to protect the Dog Eating King, anything. The worst part about the left is their inability to just say “We were wrong about this guy”. Instead they double-down and ignore the criminality, malfeasance, and outright psychopathic behavior of the fud, I guess because admitting being wrong is some sort of crime in liberal land.

Bishop on September 18, 2013 at 9:17 AM

I gave up on the Left long ago….every single
Republican in Congress needs to eat some bowls of
Brass Knuckle Wheaties, and get after these Cretins.
NOTHING will change, we have a LAWLESS Administration.
They are still engaging in this illegal conduct, as we
type…..let’s see. The FBI was going to “investigate”
the IRS…Hmmmm, really??? Anybody see that actually
happening????

The hell with the Left, let them wallow in their
Criminally laced delusions of Grandeur….

It’s the Right who need to step up, if anything is to
get done….

ToddPA on September 18, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Gee, Progressives, good thing George Bush’s IRS didn’t target groups for emotional anti-Bush rhetoric. Your entire population would have been tied up in audits.

rrpjr on September 18, 2013 at 9:38 AM

The common complaint was that he hadn’t gone far enough to the left. So, yes, they were disappointed that he hadn’t gone “full Stalin.”

iurockhead on September 18, 2013 at 9:36 AM

This is absolutely the narrative of the academic and intelligentsia Left. My Leftist relatives and associates repeat it all the time. “Obama is a failure because he’s a sell-out to the corporate Right.” It’s an article of faith. They essentially want him to be more of a Mussolini. They have no historical awareness of how many times this lament and urge has been expressed by apologists for failed tyrants.

rrpjr on September 18, 2013 at 9:43 AM

One must not criticize the First Black President who is on a perpetual ego trip for ignorance leads to arrogance.

Make it so!

Sherman1864 on September 18, 2013 at 9:46 AM

“Full Stalin”; Bishop always manages to come up with exactly the right description.

Fenris on September 18, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Back in the USSR….

albill on September 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM

And THIS is the government people are worried about shutting down?

questionmark on September 18, 2013 at 10:01 AM

And THIS is the government people are worried about shutting down?

questionmark on September 18, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Thread winner.

Chris of Rights on September 18, 2013 at 10:13 AM

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

- Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, 2010

steebo77 on September 18, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Speech in any form considered to be negative regarding the current president, is now considered to be propaganda AKA treason and will be punished by any and all agencies under his control.

Imagine if this were in effect during the Bush years LOL. Almost the entire MSM would be off in some reconditioning camps somewhere.

Shame we didn’t implement this first.

Still curious as to what they’re going to pull to get him his 3rd term. You know the lifelong one.

Oxymoron on September 18, 2013 at 10:14 AM

No worries, folks. The ACLU will be all over this flagrant abuse of power and trampling of our civil rights…

Crickets…

CaptFlood on September 18, 2013 at 10:16 AM

It’s hard for me to believe that en masse these government employees just decided to go after the Tea Party. Although the media coverage was wildly inaccurate and biased. This must be what happens when you can’t get fired, no matter what your do.

Cindy Munford on September 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Fired? This kind of fascistic persecution earned plenty of promotions for loyal government drones.

steebo77 on September 18, 2013 at 10:17 AM

No doubt lefty journalism professors are using this as a teaching example of a chilling effect.

jangle12 on September 18, 2013 at 10:24 AM

No doubt lefty journalism professors are using this as a teaching example of a chilling effect.

jangle12 on September 18, 2013 at 10:24 AM

No. It’s not like the IRS asked Tea Partiers for a picture ID.

Paul-Cincy on September 18, 2013 at 10:37 AM

The political affairs head of the IRS made dozens of trips to the Obama White House. George Bush’s director of the IRS made one visit in eight years.

rrpjr on September 18, 2013 at 10:39 AM

When the IRS starts targeting political dissent for scrutiny, they have stopped being a revenue collector and have become instead a political enforcer.

Liberals talk about “voter suppression” such as in Colorado last week. And yet the Obama admin may have tilted the 2012 Presidential election in his favor, and there’s not a single mention of “voter suppression” in that connection.

Paul-Cincy on September 18, 2013 at 8:47 AM

I’ve been saying it regularly, -the Presidential Election of 2012 was stolen by the democratics.

slickwillie2001 on September 18, 2013 at 10:52 AM

The Roman empire started out as a republic too.

neyney on September 18, 2013 at 11:00 AM

“See they weren’t targeting conservative groups.” …

Hahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yeah! Forget that NINETY FIVE percent were ‘conservative’ groups. No ‘targeting’ there!

GarandFan on September 18, 2013 at 11:18 AM

The real thing we are up against is: is the new way to run the government?

If this is swept under the rug the way the media is doing then why wouldn’t Presidents do this as a matter of course?

Of course, the media will be a check on Republicans doing it, but once the example is set, how can we expect that the protestations of the public will matter?

This is very very serious, and the media will not cover it.

I want to pull out my hair.

petunia on September 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Liberals will be happy to learn that out of the 162 groups mentioned on the 2011 documents at least 11 of them are progressive organizations, giving them the ability to say, “See they weren’t targeting conservative groups.”

And I bet those 11 were targeted for criticizing Obama too. The common element here is not that they necessarily targeted conservative groups, but that they targeted any dissent.

The reason the numbers overwhelmingly represent conservative groups is simply because these are more likely to be critical of the dictator.

mankai on September 18, 2013 at 9:24 AM

The critical point is the one made by the UofI law professor and which has been uncovered in material released earlier. That is, a handful of liberal groups were shown to have received scrutiny. But those liberal groups were seeking 501(c)(3) public-charity status. That status grants the entity tax-exempt status and ALSO allows donors to deduct their contributions. Those entities are supposed to be entirely non-political. So any group applying for that status deserves scrutiny. And that’s why these liberals groups–to the extent they got it–received that scrutiny.

In contrast, entities applying for 501(c)(4) status are seeking only tax-exempt status. They are not asking that donor be entitled to tax deductions to them for contributions. As a result, these entities can engage in some political activity (propaganda, if you like), as long as it’s not more than 50% of their activity. That the IRS went after the 501(c)(4) groups as if they were applying for 501(c)(3) status is simply outrageous.

BuckeyeSam on September 18, 2013 at 11:36 AM

OK … so now not only do we defund O-Care, but defund the IRS as well!!!

mel23059 on September 18, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Wow, I can barely stand to look at HotAir’s main page these days with these pictures of Obama and Holder pasted all over the place. Geez, the one on this thread is especially creepy, in fact it’s downright sickening.

Susanboo on September 18, 2013 at 12:40 PM

“But the word “propaganda” doesn’t appear in section 501(c)(4), which governs the social welfare status that most Tea Party groups were applying for, said John Colombo, a law professor at the University of Illinois. Instead, it appears in section 501(c)(3), which governs public charities.”

Remind me how Media Matters is still in existence?

2nd Ammendment Mother on September 18, 2013 at 1:14 PM

That Lenin/Mussolini-look-alike is such a perfect fit for the thug in chief.

Schadenfreude on September 18, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Nixon was impeached and would have been removed for MUCH less than Obama has already gotten away with.

Obama is a traitor. He should be impeached, convicted, and perp-walked in cuffs out of the White House.

Meople on September 18, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Meople on September 18, 2013 at 2:31 PM

Correction: Nixon resigned before facing certain impeachment and removal.

My other statement remains.

Meople on September 18, 2013 at 3:28 PM

Meople on September 18, 2013 at 3:28 PM,

Agreed. But until the GOP takes control of the Senate, nothing short of BHO committing murder on national TV will get the Donks to vote for conviction and removal. It has been documented elsewhere that BHO has committed over 70 impeachable offenses. I’m hoping that the GOP leadership in the House is quietly preparing the Articles of Impeachment and if the GOP takes control of the Senate after the 2014 elections, they will be introduced. To do so prior to the 2014 elections, is a waste of time. He would be impeached, but, as stated above, never convicted and removed.

GAlpha10 on September 18, 2013 at 3:54 PM

Do we all recall what Affirmative Action implies?
The reason there will be NO follow up or investigations is because the First Affirmative Action President (FAAP) was a complete creation/fabrication of the Manure Stream Media.
No history. No bona fides. No qualifications. No demonstrated capabilities. Nothing, nada, zilch.
As for a Special Prosecutor … dream on. Those folks are funded by the Congress but lead by persons selected by (drum roll please) … the Office of the United States Attorney General’s office.
And who heads that auspicious office?
None other than the second highest Affirmative Action Achiever, … Eric Holder.
Bet the farm on this one folks. No one will be appointed anything that even remotely resembles a competent, capable, independent Special Prosecutor with the mandate to investigate Shiite about this Administration.

Missilengr on September 18, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Ed, I don’t care what you say, because you aren’t a journalist — a member of the press. Senator Feinstein told you this just a few days ago — so there!

unclesmrgol on September 19, 2013 at 12:40 AM