There is that old line about paranoia..sometimes they really are after you.
Such is the case with the IRS who in a just released story by the Associated Press admits to targeting conservative organizations’ tax exempt status during the 2012 Presidential election period.
Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.
Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.
Many 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.
In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
“That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review,” Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.
“The IRS would like to apologize for that,” she added.
About 75 groups were inappropriately targeted. None had their tax-exempt status revoked, Lerner said.
…And they are sorry…does that make YOU feel better? (me neither).
This is no surprise, back in March, Michelle Malkin talked about Mark Levin’s Landmark Legal foundation suing the IRS for just that reason:
…inquiries about personal associations and political viewpoints are not only inappropriate, but impinge upon constitutionally-protected freedoms of speech and association.
Although the Internal Revenue Code has limited the tax exemption subsidy ofSOI(c)(3) organizations to groups that do not participate in political activity, the Service must still tread lightly when dealing with fundamental constitutional rights. Inquiring about the positions a prospective organization adopts on various policy issues serves no valid purpose if the organization does not engage in political activity. Such inquiries appear to be designed only to intimidate the applicants. As it has been upheld repeatedly by the Supreme Court, the government cannot regulate political speech with laws that chill permissible speech. Finally, reports that Tea Party-related organizations are being singled out for the IRS’s intrusive inquires raises serious questions about the propriety of the personnel involved in the evaluation of tax
Landmark Legal Foundation respectfully requests an immediate and thorough investigation to determine whether IRS employees are acting improperly in the evaluation of exempt status applications. This investigation also must determine whether the relevant IRS employees are acting at the direction of politically motivated superiors.
Gee Whiz and I thought we only had to worry about the press targeting conservatives. It certainly makes one even more paranoid about the fact the IRS is also going to be enforcing Obamacare.
…More to come
UPDATE: This is quickly becoming another disaster for the Obama Administration:
Lois Lerner held a press conference with reporters trying to track down more facts about the story of the IRS targeting conservative groups. At one point during the call Ms Learner said something one shouldn’t hear from someone who works at the IRS
“I’m not good at math,” she confessed as she tried to summon a statistic.
Not only was the Press Conference a disaster for Ms. Lerner, but during his briefing Jay Carney blamed the misuse of the IRS as the fault of the previous administration.
WAPO reports why the presser may have done the IRS more harm than good:
- IRS officials claimed that there was no political bias behind the targeting of these conservative groups, but they failed to produce any examples of similar targeting of groups with non-conservative-sounding names. Initially, they suggested that other non-conservative-sounding names might have been targeted. By the end of the call, though, Lerner acknowledged: “I only said that because I never like to say ‘absolutely not.’ I don’t have any information on that.”
- Lerner wouldn’t say whether anyone is being disciplined, then appeared to say there was no disciplinary action, then went back to saying she wouldn’t comment. Federal personnel rules appear to prohibit Lerner from discussing discipline, so she has some justification for not commenting. But that justification was never explained, and instead she was pressed repeatedly on why she wouldn’t discuss discipline.
- Lerner said she disclosed the information because someone asked her about it Friday morning — indicating that she had no plans to release the information publicly, despite the confirmed wrongdoing.
- When asked how they found out about the wrongdoing, Lerner said the investigation stemmed from media reports about conservative groups claiming that they were targeted, not from any internal review.
- Lerner and her staff tried to get off the phone call after less than half an hour of questioning, but Columbia Journalism Review reporter (and Pulitzer Prize winner) David Cay Johnston informed them that they had better stay and answer everyone’s questions. They stayed on the call for another 20 minutes. By the end, they said Lerner had to get to some appointments and cited the “repetitive” line of questioning. Johnston informed them that it was because they weren’t answering the questions.
Yikes But then for Comic Relief there is always Jay Carney who said:
“I.R.S. is an independent enforcement agency,” said Carney. “The — which I believe, as I understand it, contains only two political appointees within it. The individual who is running the I.R.S. at the time was actually an appointee from the previous administration.”
The Blame Bush video is below: