The IRS has finally publicly admitted that patriots and Tea Party groups were being specifically targeted for “extra scrutiny”, but the truth is that top IRS officials knew that this intimidating and harassing behavior was taking place two years ago.
A report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration that is going to be released this week shows that the targeting of patriots and Tea Party groups began as early as March 2010, and that the head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division was specifically told about this targeting in June 2011. But then the IRS lied to Congress five separate times between November 18th, 2011 and June 15th, 2012 about what was going on.
IRS officials flat-out lied to Congress and adamantly denied that patriots and Tea Party groups had been specifically targeted. So should we believe the IRS now when they try to pin the blame on a few “low-level” employees in Cincinnati? And were Barack Obama or any members of his administration ever told about any of this? After all, patriot groups and Tea Party organizations were screaming bloody murder about this harassment at the time; and if the truth had come out before the election it could have been a massive embarrassment for the Obama campaign. Are we to believe that nobody inside the Obama campaign ever had any discussions about this? If Obama or those close to him did know what was going on, why didn’t they ever do anything to stop it?
According to Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, any groups that had the words “patriot” or “tea party” in their names were specifically targeted for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. The demands that were made on some of these groups were extraordinary.
One group from Kentucky was sent an 88-page questionnaire…
Conservative groups complained during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS. They said the agency asked them an inordinate number of questions to justify their tax-exempt status, and 27 Tea Party groups joined with conservative lawyer Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice to push back on the IRS.
Kentucky 9/12 Project is one of the conservative organizations that joined with Sekulow to complain of government overreach.
Its executive director, Eric Wilson, said his group applied for tax-exempt status in December 2010. He said the IRS responded with an 88-page questionnaire that sought all the organization’s correspondence, the names of its members — along with details of group’s activity on Facebook and Twitter.
In other instances, the level of information that was requested was beyond absurd…
Stephanie Scruggs, who works with The912Project and United in Action, said, for example the IRS demanded copies of every single post to every single organization website page, Twitter feed and Facebook feed.
The IRS also requested contact information for family members of each board member. And yet another demand was for the name and contact for every person who ever had attended one of the group’s meetings.
And remember, this kind of scrutiny was only reserved for patriots and Tea Party groups. Obviously the intent was to harass, intimidate and damage those groups at a very politically sensitive time. It would have been one thing if the IRS had come out right away and had admitted the mistakes and had worked feverishly to fix them.
But that did not happen.
Even though the IRS knew exactly what was going on, IRS officials vehemently denied that targeting of patriot and Tea Party groups was taking place in response to five different congressional inquiries between November 18th, 2011 and June 15th, 2012.
If the IRS had admitted the truth to Congress, it would have been extremely damaging to the Obama campaign. During that time period, the outcome of the election was very much up in the air, and so IRS officials may have played a role in altering the outcome of the election by blatantly lying to Congress.
Several newspapers, including USA Today, have acquired excerpts of the report that is going to be released this week. These excerpts show that the IRS has known about this targeting of patriot and Tea Party groups for a very long time…
The timeline was part of a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which has been investigating the IRS’ treatment of Tea Party groups at the request of Congress. The report is expected to be critical of the IRS actions. Excerpts obtained by USA TODAY provide a timeline investigators compiled through e-mails and interviews with IRS officials.
It shows that on June 29, 2011, IRS officials in Cincinnati told Lerner how they were handling applications for tax-exempt status for Tea Party groups. Certain groups, the briefing paper showed, were subjected by the IRS to further investigation based on politically loaded terms in the tax-exempt application file. Groups were singled out for enhanced scrutiny if:
• The words “tea party,” “patriots,” or “9/12 project” appeared anywhere in the group name or case file;
• The group’s stated issues included government spending, government debt or taxes;
• The organization had a goal of educating the public via advocacy or lobbying to “make America a better place to live;”
• Any statements in the case file critical of how the country is being run.
And you know what? A lot of those groups still have not had their applications approved. The delays and the harassment continue to this day.
Needless to say, a lot of Republicans are extremely outraged by this revolting behavior by the IRS. For example, check out what Senator Susan Collins said on Sunday…
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Sunday called the Internal Revenue Service’s singling out of conservative groups for extra scrutiny “absolutely chilling” and called on President Obama to condemn the effort.
“This is truly outrageous and it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government,” Collins, a moderate Republican, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review, and I think it’s very disappointing that the president hasn’t personally condemned this and spoken out.”
And of course many Tea Party groups are absolutely livid…
“The IRS has demonstrated the most disturbing, illegal and outrageous abuse of government power,” said Jenny Beth Martin, National Coordinator for Tea Party Patriots.
“This deliberate targeting and harassment of tea party groups reaches a new low in illegal government activity and overreach. It is suspicious that the activity of these ‘low-level workers’ was unknown to IRS leadership at the time it occurred. President Obama must also apologize for his administration ignoring repeated complaints by these broad grassroots organizations of harassment by the IRS in 2012, and make concrete and transparent steps today to ensure this never happens again. We reject a simple apology that does nothing to alleviate the danger of this happening again.”
This is just another reason why the IRS needs to be shut down. The truth is that the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was during a time when there was no federal income tax. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “100 Years Old And Still Killing Us: America Was Much Better Off Before The Income Tax“.
But even if the IRS is shut down, this kind of harassment is going to keep happening because Democrats at the highest level continue to send signals that it is okay to demonize patriots and Tea Party groups. Just check out the following examples of this phenomenon from a recent article by Lloyd Marcus…
Democrat VP Biden said, “Republicans want y’all back (blacks) in chains.” Democrat Rep. Andre Carson said the Tea Party movement would “love” to see black Americans “hang from a tree.”
Democrat Alan Grayson said, “Republicans want you to die quickly.”
Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters said, “The tea party can go straight to hell.” Think about that folks. Millions of Americans who oppose Obama ignoring the Constitution and cramming his socialist/progressive agenda down their throat have been told by a Democrat to go to hell.
When top government officials use this kind of hateful language, of course their subordinates are going to feel free to apply “extra scrutiny” to patriots and Tea Party groups.
And it seems absurd to suggest that nobody in the Obama administration knew about any of this. We now know that the head of the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups knew that patriots and Tea Party groups were being specifically targeted. We also know that the IRS lied to Congress five times when they were specifically asked about this harassment. Without a doubt, members of the Obama administration and key players in the Obama campaign were aware of what Congress was asking the IRS. Did any of them ever look into these allegations to see if they were true? Once they looked into these things, did they report back to Obama?
The inner circles of political campaigns tend to be obsessed with any potential threats that could derail their candidates. It is crazy to think that those close to Obama never talked about any of this or looked into it to see if it might be a significant problem for the campaign.
One thing is for sure – this goes a lot, lot higher than just a few “low-level” employees in Cincinnati.
The American people deserve the truth about this.
Let’s hope that they get it.
This article first appeared here at the American Dream. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.