On Friday, the IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner was asked a question at a meeting of tax attorneys about the targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups by the IRS. She confessed the targeting and apologized.
Cue the Special Prosecutor.
In today’s Wall Street Journal we learn why Ms. Lerner likely let that apology ‘slip out’ on a Friday afternoon,
The mea culpa lands ahead of an official report on the tax-fishing incidents by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. That report was requested by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa and Ohio Republican Representative Jim Jordan in June 2012, and the IG is expected to issue its findings soon.
As I posted yesterday, Lerner copped to the targeting being done by the Tax Exempt IRS workers in Ohio. What is it about Ohio government workers anyway? First, State government workers released private information in an effort to discredit Joe the Plumber for daring to ask the President about his big tax proposals and now they’re going after conservative groups.
The WSJ asks an interesting series of questions,
- Even if the idea did arise as some kind of spontaneous Cincinnati political combustion, where could they possibly have come up with the idea that targeting the tea party might be a good career move? That certainly was the uber political message coming out of the White House, even if it wasn’t a directive from the top of the IRS.
- Another question is who stopped the “inappropriate” requests once they were discovered.
- Was anyone punished?
- And how far up the chain of command did knowledge go?
Now as I pointed out in yesterday’s post and obvious to anyone with a calendar, this extra scrutiny was done during THE 2012 ELECTION CYCLE. What effect would this have on political speech during the bruising Congressional battles as well as the Presidential election? The Journal opines,
…[T]he timing of these requests, in the middle of the 2012 campaign, had the effect of stifling political activity. The targeted groups had tax-exempt status that allowed them to participate in certain kinds of political messaging. But any such group receiving IRS missives is immediately going to become cautious, lest it risk the arbitrary wrath of some tax official. The speech-squelching effects may have been especially important in Ohio, which was ground zero in the battle for the White House.
What the IRS minions did wasn’t a mistake. It was a concerted malevolent effort to intimidate political opponents of their leader President Obama. There was no fear of reprisal, only hope of promotion. And it had happened before. From the Journal,
In May 2011, the IRS was caught sending letters to big donors of 501(c) groups, suggesting that their contributions could be retroactively taxed under the gift tax. On that occasion too, the IRS blamed the political gamesmanship on low-level employees, saying it was carried out by “career” workers and didn’t reflect a coordinated effort by the White House.
Over at the HotAir blog, Mary Katherine Ham got her hands on some of the questions the IRS brutes were asking the Tea Party groups. I aim to find out if these questions are the usual from the IRS, but, on the face of it, they seem to be beside the point of the IRS,
2. What do we need to know about your members? Nothing much. Just ALL THE THINGS!
5. If someone in this country’s free press has ever interacted with you in any way shape or form about your free speech activities, we’re going to need documentation of that.
The IRS is the agency in charge of enforcing ObamaCare. This ought to work out well.
Finally a moment of shocking realization–the scared straight moment– from the WSJ editorial today,
Other than the power to prosecute, the taxing authority is the most awesome power the government has. It can ruin people and companies. When wielded for political purposes, it is a violation of the basic contract the American people have with their government. The abuse admitted by Ms. Lerner can’t be dismissed in a casual apology on a casual Friday as no big deal. It’s a very big and bad deal.
Barack Obama and the Democrats: Worse than Nixon.
The latest campaign finance disclosure bill sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), would force trade organizations and 527 and 501(c) groups to disclose their donors, institute real-time reporting requirements and impose draconian penalties for noncompliance.
The bill modifies the tax code to cover political nonprofits, so it also hands more power to regulate politics to the IRS. The bill is a terrible idea on its face, but after M