Via the Examiner and NRO, a few more credible, confidence-inspiring breadcrumbs from this morning’s Ways and Means hearing. It’s starting to make sense now why protesting Planned Parenthood might present a risk to your tax-exempt status, isn’t it?
The second clip is of Miller saying that he did indeed ask his underlings who was targeting conservative groups, and they told him, but now he can’t remember the answer. Really. The disdain this guy harbors for the proceedings is palpable, but that’s probably in his best interest: The more antagonistic he is, the more liberal support he’ll have when the administration inevitably tries to find a new job for him at the IRS after this blows over. In the meantime, Miller’s loss is Fred Armisen’s gain, assuming SNL even attempts to tackle O’s scandals this weekend. Given what the show’s come to, maybe it’s best that they didn’t.
By the way, did anyone ask Miller the threshold question of why the IRS chose to spend so much time on penny-ante tea-party groups instead of the gigantic conservative and liberals 501(c)(4) orgs that have real influence on elections? Here’s what the Cincinnati office considered a priority:
The AP reviewed 990 tax returns for nonprofit groups that were made publicly available and posted on both the Guidestar and the Foundation Center websites, searching between 2009 and 2011 under the terms “tea party,” ”patriot” and other terms frequently used by tea party groups. Several tea party groups also made their tax returns available to the AP. The returns detailed revenues and expenses for the groups, as well as other details. Donors’ identifies, however, are shielded from disclosure under federal tax code provisions.
Only 21 of the 93 groups reported annual gross receipts higher than $25,000 between 2009 and 2011, according to the AP review. The $25,000 figure is a threshold for the IRS because an organization’s financial strength and revenue sources are important factors in determining its tax-exempt status. Nonprofit groups reporting less than $25,000 a year are allowed to file a short-form, postcard tax return instead of a detailed filing — one indication of a low-budget operation.
The median income for all the groups was just $16,700 a year. That figure includes several tea party organizations that boasted million-dollar budgets and a cluster of others with more than $100,000 in annual revenues. The well-funded activist groups were led by the Georgia-based Tea Party Patriots Inc., the nation’s biggest tea party group, which started out with more than $700,000 in annual revenues in 2009 and grew to $20.2 million annually in 2012.
Radley Balko noted on Twitter this morning that the amounts being thrown around here tend to undercut the sacred liberal talking point that the tea-party movement is merely corporate astroturf bankrolled by the Koch brothers to advance plutocratic interests. Suggested new narrative: The “plutocratic astroturf” theory is true, it’s just that the Kochs are … really, really stingy towards their puppets.