The IRS scandal continues to expand. According to a report in today’s edition of USA Today, newly discovered documents show the agency flagged political groups based on the content of their literature, raising concerns specifically about “anti-Obama rhetoric,” inflammatory language and “emotional” statements made by non-profits seeking tax-exempt status.
In all, the November 2011 document (embedded below)identifies 162 groups by name, with comments by Internal Revenue Service lawyers in Washington, which is strange because the administration said the entire problem was caused by a couple of zealots in Cincinnati.
Liberals will be happy to learn that out of the 162 groups mentioned on the 2011 documents at least 11 of them are progressive organizations, giving them the ability to say, “See they weren’t targeting conservative groups.”
But the American Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit legal institute that represents 23 of the groups appearing on the IRS list, said it appears to be “the most powerful evidence yet of a coordinated effort” by the IRS to target Tea Party groups.
“The political motivations of this are so patently obvious, but then to have a document that spells it out like this is very damaging to the IRS,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ. “I hope the FBI has seen these documents.”
The IRS categorized the groups as engaging in several advocacy-related activities that could have barred them from tax-exempt status, such as lobbying and “propaganda.”
But the word “propaganda” doesn’t appear in section 501(c)(4), which governs the social welfare status that most Tea Party groups were applying for, said John Colombo, a law professor at the University of Illinois. Instead, it appears in section 501(c)(3), which governs public charities.
“There would be no reason I would think to flag them if it’s for a 501(c)(4) status,” Colombo said. “That’s very odd to me.”
What the report doesn’t show is which of these groups eventually were approved and the difference in waiting times between the conservative and progressive organizations. Either way the ratio of conservative/progressive organizations targeted indicate that there was something rotten going on in the IRS offices in DC.
In three cases, IRS lawyers noted that groups appeared to be connected to Republican politicians: Stand Up for Our Nation Inc., linked to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; Reform Jersey Now Inc., linked to Gov. Chris Christie; and American Solutions for Winning the Future, founded by former House speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich’s group was approved last year.
For instance, the IRS said the website of the Patriots of Charleston contains “negative Obama commentary.” Though the IRS didn’t cite examples, a November 2011 article on the group’s site says: “Obama’s and the Democrats’ track record of disaster is based upon a combination of their ignorance and their fundamental desire to convert America into a ruling class of wealthy all-powerful elitists and a single class of serfs.”
“The web site, as we explained to them on multiple occasions, is really a blog” that members can submit commentary to, said Joanne Jones, the group’s vice chairwoman. “I’m not going to tell you we weren’t political. We were to an extent, but we were within the limits of the law. For example, there’s one clear-cut issue: We did not endorse candidates.”
“To focus in on somebody saying something anti-Obama,” she said, “it’s almost like the speech police there. It’s disturbing. It’s the kind of overreach that leads into Obamacare.”
The Democrats in the House maintain that investigations into the actions of the IRS are nothing but a political witch hunt. Rep Elijah Cummings the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee keeps trying to do the a Jedi-mind trick to
convince America “these are not the scandals we are looking for” but thankfully he will not be able to succeed. The latest uncovered documents prove there is something to this scandal and more investigation is needed to ensure this will not happen again.