Political Activity Law Alert: IRS targeted conservative groups

UPDATE: TOP OFFICIALS KNEW. The Hill. “According to that draft, the head of the IRS division that overseas tax-exempt groups became aware that conservative groups were being targeted for scrutiny in June, 2011.”

UPDATE: WAYS AND MEANS DEMAND. Here. “The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight has thrown down an investigative gauntlet to the Internal Revenue Service, demanding that the agency hand over by next Wednesday every communication in its records that includes the words ‘tea party,’ ‘patriot’ or ‘conservative.'”

THE BIG STORY: IRS APOLOGIZES. AP. “White House spokesman Jay Carney declared it was indeed inappropriate for the IRS to target tea party groups. But he brushed aside questions about whether the White House itself would investigate.”

MISTAKES WERE MADE. NR. The IRS statement explains, “Mistakes were made initially, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan rationale.”

IRS UNDER SIEGE. Politico. “The IRS doesn’t have many friends on a good day. By Friday evening, the agency seemed to have none at all.”

MCCONNELL: SORRY NOT ENOUGH. Story here. “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is calling for a ‘government-wide review’ in the wake of the admission from the IRS that tea party political groups were inappropriately selected for special scrutiny in the 2012 campaign.”

PAUL OFFENDED. Story here. “‘I’m offended when any kind of government entity targets people for their political or religious beliefs. It’s particularly offensive, particularly since I’m one of the groups they were targeting,’ [Sen. Rand] Paul said.”

WH: INAPPROPRIATE. NPR. “White House press secretary Jay Carney called the IRS actions ‘inappropriate’ and said they should be investigated.”

POST VIEW: FULL ACCOUNTING NEEDED. Here. “If it was not partisanship, was it incompetence? Stupidity, on a breathtaking scale? At this point, the IRS has lost any standing to determine and report on what exactly happened.”

WARNING IGNORED? DC. “This is not a new project for McConnell. Speaking at AEI in June of 2012, he noted that tea party groups had ‘received a lengthy questionnaire from the IRS demanding attendance lists, meeting transcripts, and donor information.'”

TARGETING LONG-SUSPECTED. Volokh. “Some conservative and libertarian groups have long suspected that the Internal Revenue Service has targeted right-leaning non-profits for extra scrutiny, but such allegations were always difficult to prove (and often sounded a bit conspiratorial).”

IRS: COME CLEAN. CCP. “The IRS needs to come clean – what did they know and when did they know it? Why has there been a delay in admitting this gross violation of First Amendment rights?”

MAIN STREAM COVERAGE LATE? RedState. “I’m glad that the heritage media is finally reporting on what new media has covered for over a year now: that the IRS has been systematically targeting Americans based on their political ideology.”

GROUPS TARGETED. The Post. “The Internal Revenue Service on Friday apologized for targeting groups with ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their names, confirming long-standing accusations by some conservatives that their applications for tax-exempt status were being improperly delayed and scrutinized.” The Post story has over 5,000 comments on their website.

GOVERNMENT-WIDE REVIEW URGED. Story here. “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is calling on President Obama to order a top-to-bottom review of the administration after the IRS admitted Friday that it had targeted conservative groups during the 2012 election.”

LERNER DISCLOSED. The Times. “Lois Lerner, the director of the I.R.S. division that oversees tax-exempt groups, acknowledged that the agency had singled out nonprofit applicants with the terms ‘Tea Party’ or ‘patriots’ in their titles in an effort to respond to a surge in applications for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012.”

CINCINNATI BLAMED. Heritage. “Lerner claimed that ‘the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias.'”

CONSERVATIVES SLAM IRS. FOX. “Tea Party leaders refused to accept an apology from the IRS Friday in which the agency acknowledged that it inappropriately flagged conservative groups for additional review during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.”

ACLJ: MORE TO THE STORY. NR. “At the ACLJ, we represent 27 targeted conservative groups across 18 states. These groups were not merely asked to provide routine follow-up information at a greater rate than others, the questions themselves were intrusive and blatantly unconstutional. I posted about this issue last May when we began representing the first of the groups.”

ALTHOUSE ON CONTROVERSY. Here. “The unequal, politically skewed enforcement of a law is a far more serious problem than the level of harshness of a neutrally enforced law. We can disagree about what the tax laws should be and how strictly or harshly they should be enforced, but everyone knows it is fundamentally wrong to vary the degree of enforcement, selecting victims by their politics.”

CATO COMMENTARY. CATO has a number of items on this development. Daniel Mitchell slams the agency for Nixon-like harrassment here. Michael Cannon details prior testimony of Douglas Shulman related to this topic here and has further thoughts here, where he notes a recent speech by President Obama.

ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR WEEKEND. I’m sure we’ll all be following this story in the months to come.

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