Paul L. Caron

Friday, September 22, 2017

The IRS Scandal, Day 1597: New Details Of Targeting Of Conservative Groups Emerge In Tea Party Lawsuits

IRS Logo 2Cincinnati Enquirer, New Details Emerge in Tea Party Suit Against IRS:

The IRS used the political views of conservative "tea party" groups trying to get nonprofit status as a reason for extra scrutiny and continued delaying applications until 2013 — long after they said they'd stopped — new federal court filings allege.

The new accusations counter previous IRS claims that agents did not consider political beliefs when slowing down tax-exempt applications from right-leaning groups in the months leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

The IRS had instead argued that it was merely monitoring whether the groups were conducting more political activity than was allowed.

The filings by conservative groups suing the IRS also state the agency continued the practice after IRS officials said it had stopped in 2011. ...

"By trying to make this about whether this was done to help Obama win is setting the goalpost artificially too high," Eddie Greim, a lawyer representing conservative groups in the class-action suit, said in an interview with The Enquirer. "All we have to prove is whether they had the intent and if they indeed treated a set of groups differently based on their ideology. ...

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Terrrace Park, who was one of the first in Congress to publicly complain in 2012 about the IRS' possible discrimination against conservative nonprofit groups, said that the practice was "an appalling abuse of power" in a statement to The Enquirer. “It’s clear that the Obama administration’s IRS illegally and intentionally targeted conservative groups for their ideological beliefs, and those responsible ... need to be held accountable," Portman said. ...

[O]thers testified in depositions that Lerner ordered IRS agents to send requests for additional information from the affected groups following that 2011 meeting. That included requests for donor information, normally considered off-limits. Lerner "wanted everyone to know that we are handling the cases as we should," testified Cindy Thomas, the top nonprofit official in Cincinnati at the time.

"So after they were told that this was possibly improper, they doubled down and kept going," Greim said. "This goes well beyond the narrative of what's been reported before."

Greim also said that the IRS removed two Washington agents who had raised questions about the extra scrutiny on the tea party cases. "These two found that ideology was indeed being used, raised questions about it and told their superiors about it and that it was going to cause delay," Greim said. "And wouldn't you know it, they were moved off the matter soon thereafter."

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bflat89 is partially correct. IRS officials, and Democrats in particular, were alarmed by the Citizens United SCOTUS decision and braced for an onslaught of 501(c)(4) applications that never materialized. The initial IRS "tea party cases" e-mail memos date from February 2011, less than a month after the case was decided.

The latest reports substantiate a supplemental report by the TIGTA at the request of Congressional Democrats seeking to prove that the targeting was nonpartisan. TIGTA verified the earlier report that the vast majority of the orgs singled out were conservative-sounding, and that the few liberal and progressive groups included in the roughly 400 cases were there basically as a matter of coincidence and error. This is substantiated further by the lack of liberal and progressive groups coming forward to protest how their applications were handled by the IRS.

Posted by: Michael L. Wyland | Sep 23, 2017 12:08:32 PM

"That would explain why the DOJ refuses to go after Lerner."

It's simpler than that: The DOJ colluded with the IRS at the very beginning, right after the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. That's been proved in the public record, whether Mr. Publius accepts reality or maintains his own willful ignorance of the facts:

In short, the bureaucratic beast never takes a bite out of itself, no matter how bad it's behaved...

Posted by: MM | Sep 22, 2017 7:54:53 PM

The Republicans, Democrats, and Obama Administration were scared to death by the 2010 mid-term election and vowed to do something about it. This was orchestrated and all concerned knew about it, which is why Republicans are helping slow-walk this investigation. You have to know McCain would be one of those requesting the IRS look into these groups but my question is whether Jeff Sessions also asked for this. That would explain why the DOJ refuses to go after Lerner.

Posted by: bflat879 | Sep 22, 2017 9:58:23 AM

And yet Portman, Hatch (of course) and Corker put Koskinen in office. And wasn't it Portman who argued against impeaching him last year?

"Sen. Orrin Hatch - who has expressed frustration that Koskinen was put to a vote before the Senate Finance Committee completed its investigation into the targeting controversy - ultimately supported the nomination.

“I am encouraged by Mr. Koskinen’s commitment to continue the cooperation the Finance Committee has enjoyed so far in its investigation, as well as his commitment to working with Congress to fix the IRS’s many problems,” Hatch, a Utah Republican, said in a statement to the congressional record.

Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Rob Portman of Ohio and Bob Corker of Tennessee joined Hatch is (sic) voting for Koskinen."

Posted by: Ken | Sep 22, 2017 9:04:28 AM

Somebody somewhere must have the goods on multiple people on both sides of the aisle. How else can you explain how this open wound has been allowed to fester for so long? Not to mention how is Koskinen still the commish?

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Sep 22, 2017 7:13:36 AM