According to the WSJ:
On Monday the Center for Competitive Politics filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against nine U.S. senators: for interfering with IRS tax proceedings; for misusing official resources for campaign purposes; and for improper conduct that reflects poorly upon the Senate. Attempting to use the IRS to advance a partisan, electoral agenda is a fundamental assault on good government. We believe these elected officials have staged such an assault.
The complaint documents how the senators improperly interfered with IRS adjudications to further their party’s electoral prospects. They pressured the IRS to undertake income-tax investigations of specific organizations, to find that specific organizations were in violation of the law, to reach predetermined results pertaining to pending applications by individual organizations for nonprofit status, and to adopt specific regulatory interpretations and policies to further their campaign goals.
The suit charges that after failing to pass the Disclose Act, however, nine senators began a pattern of improper conduct aimed at pressuring the IRS to harass and investigate their political opponents. Those senators are, Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Al Franken (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Tom Udall (D-NM).
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Senators may inquire about agency practices and operations. But they cross an ethical line when they interfere in pending tax exemption applications or pressure an agency to investigate or prosecute specific organizations.
Just days after the final defeat of the Disclose Act in October 2010, Sen. Richard Durbin (D., Ill.)—another senator in our complaint—wrote to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman on his official letterhead to demand that the IRS “quickly examine the tax status of Crossroads GPS,” a major conservative nonprofit.
Mr. Durbin accused Crossroads GPS of breaking the law. He later admitted to Chris Wallace on Fox News that he sought the investigation because “they were boastful about how much money they were going to raise and beat Democrats with.”
Pressure on the IRS increased after the 2010 midterm Republican landslide. Mr. Schumer stated in one speech, “It’s clear we’re not going to pass anything legislatively,” due to “Republican control” of the House. “But there are many things that can be done by the IRS . . . and we have to redouble our efforts. We have not worked hard enough on this.” In a letter to the IRS on March 12, 2012, M, N.H.)r. Schumer urged the service to investigate various groups identified through reference to news articles.
Michigan Sen. Carl Levin wrote at least seven letters to the IRS, and demanded that it investigate specific nonprofits. The IRS’s failure to launch these investigations, he wrote in one, was “unacceptable.” Mr. Levin also sought confidential nonprofit tax return information from the IRS, even after being warned, repeatedly, by IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Steven T. Miller, that such information could not be legally divulged.
In response to a Levin March 30 letter citing the “urgency of the issue,” then-Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller assured the senator that IRS regulations were flexible enough to allow IRS agents to “prepare individualized questions and requests” for select 501(c)(4) organization.
Levin singled out 12 groups he wants investigated for “political activity.” Of the groups – which include the Club for Growth, Americans for Tax Reform, the 60 Plus Association, and the Susan B. Anthony List – only one, Priorities USA, is notably left-leaning.
Understand, though there is evidence that the demands of these senators motivated IRS policy, efforts affected IRS policy, these senator’s actions would be considered improper even if the IRS did not act.
Senate rules require that the Ethics Committee take action. And we as citizens must make sure that the IRS is not abused by Democrats or Republicans for partisan electoral gain.