How is it possible that some low-level government employees at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flagged conservative political group’s applications for tax-exempt status for additional reviews during the 2012 election?

The conservative organizations were singled out if their names included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.

In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, Lerner 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.

Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The Associated Press that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice.

Is it believable that non-politically motivated “low-level” IRS workers would just choose to flag applications clearly tied to Tea Party related organizations? It stretches credulity to believe that these actions weren’t caught early on by supervisors and raised to officials in Washington and disciplinary actions taken.

Not just Tea Party related groups, but many other conservative groups as well complained during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS; they accused the agency of frustrating their attempts to become tax exempt by sending them lengthy, intrusive questionnaires.

The questionnaires issued by the IRS sought information about group members’ political activities, including details of their postings on social networking websites and about family members in clear violation of the law.

Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities but it cannot be their primary activity.

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that the IRS was not targeting groups based on their political views. Was Shulman, a Bush appointee, just so disconnected from the activities of his own organization, the IRS, that he was unaware?

“There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman told a House Ways and Means subcommittee.

Lerner’s statement led the public to believe that this was only a problem during the 2012 election; however after Lerner made her statement it leaked out that on June 29, 2011, Lerner received a briefing on how IRS officials in Cincinnati were dealing with applications for tax-exempt status for Tea Party groups. The briefing paper showed that the IRS was subjecting certain groups to further investigation based on politically loaded terms in the tax-exempt application file. Groups were singled out for enhanced scrutiny if:

• The words “tea party,” “patriots,” or “9/12 project” appeared anywhere in the group name or case file;

• The group’s stated issues included government spending, government debt or taxes;

• The organization had a goal of educating of the public via advocacy or lobbying to “make America a better place to live;”

• Any statements in the case file critical of how the country is being run.

Under those criteria, 100 groups had their applications sent to a dedicated team of specialists for further investigation — adding months to the approval process, according to the report.

The entire story smacks of the Nixon administration’s enemies list.

Remember, this is the most transparent administration in history; insert chuckles here.


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