Forbes: Why Are We Still Arguing Over The Facts Of The IRS Scandal?, by David Herzig (Valparaiso):
There has been a politically charged debate in academic circles for a while now about events that happened in 2013 regarding IRS investigations into groups purportedly because of the use of the term "Tea Party" in their name.
Paul L. Caron on the TaxProf Blog has been running a mostly continuous post (up to around day 1830) about "The IRS Scandal." The blog series is controversial in academic circles because it frames the issue of alleged IRS targeting of a typology of groups as a definite scandal. As Professor Philip Hackney wrote, "This so-called scandal over what conservatives saw as the persecution of right-leaning nonprofits erupted at a meeting of Washington tax lawyers in May of 2013." To be sure, it would be true if there was a direct use of the IRS to harm opposition groups. For example, it was a clear scandal when Nixon used the IRS to target his political enemies. Yet, as we saw over the weekend, the facts associated with this particular allegation are not so certain and open to debate even after many Congressional, internal IRS, and other investigations.
This weekend an interesting feud between Bradley A. Smith (and others) and David Cay Johnston (and others) percolated over the facts associated with Professor Smith's Wall Street Journal Op-ed. In a series of posts on the TaxProf Blog, Mr. Johnston, Professor Smith, and others, continued to debate and litigate the underlying facts related to the IRS investigations.
Professor Smith and others are of the belief that there was a clear scandal and targeting of right leaning groups. Mr. Johnston, is of the belief that the issue is less opaque. After all, the IRS did not just use right leaning terms to identify groups for targeting. What is clear from the series of posts is that even armed with a series of documents, either side in the debate can find clarity in their position and fault in the opposition.
How one interprets the facts, seems to be based on the lens of one's glasses. But, missing in a dispute over the facts, is what they mean. Rather that continue the downward spiral of arguing over the facts of what happened, here I want to offer a more productive use of the spot-light. We should be focused on two important points.
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1831: Johnston Says Wyland Ignores Inconvenient Facts In The IRS 'Scandal' (May 16, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1830: Johnston Says Smith Mischaracterizes The Record And Gets The Facts Of The IRS 'Scandal' Wrong (May 15, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1829: Wyland Says Johnston's Op-Ed Contains 'A Number Of Breathtaking Distortions And Omissions' (May 14, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1828: Smith Responds To Johnston's 'Ad Hominem Attack' On His WSJ Op-Ed (May 13, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1827: Johnston Calls Smith's WSJ Op-Ed A 'Breathtaking' Distortion Of The Facts (May 12, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1826: The Five Year Anniversary (May 11, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Day 1813: Did The IRS Buy Off The Tea-Party? (Apr. 23, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1701-1800 (Jan. 4, 2018 - Apr. 10, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1601-1700 (Oct. 5, 2017 - Jan. 3, 2018)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1501-1600 (June 18, 2017 - Oct. 4, 2017)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1401-1500 (Mar. 10, 2017 - June 17, 2017)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1301-1400 (Nov. 30, 2016 - Mar. 9, 2017)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1201-1300 (Aug. 22, 2016 - Nov. 29, 2016)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1101-1200 (May 14, 2016 - Aug. 21, 2016)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1001-1100 (Feb. 4, 2016 - May 13, 2016)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 901-1000 (Oct. 27, 2015 - Feb. 3, 2016)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 801-900 (July 19, 2015 - Oct. 26, 2015)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 701-800 (April 10, 2015 - July 18, 2015)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 601-700 (Dec. 31, 2014 - April 9, 2015)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 501-600 (Sept. 22, 2014-Dec. 30, 2014)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 401-500 (June 14, 2014 - Sept. 21,2014)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 301-400 (Mar. 6, 2014 - June 13, 2014)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 201-300 (Nov. 26, 2013 - Mar. 5, 2014)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 101-200 (Aug. 18, 2013 - Nov. 25, 2013)
- The IRS Scandal, Days 1-100 (May 10, 2013 - Aug. 17, 2013)