It is still unclear whether the Internal Revenue Service’s flagging of conservative political groups for additional reviews to determine whether they were violating their tax-exempt status was politically motivated. It is hard to imagine that it was not, even if the staffers responsible were low-level civil service employees, as division head Lois Lerner has stated.
One thing everyone can agree on — including Lerner, who issued a lengthy mea culpa — is that the IRS’s probe into organizations with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications was inappropriate.
Everyone that is except for Ken Layne. In a blog post at Gawker that is dripping with contempt, Layne asks sardonically:
What’s wrong with a good charity named Tea Party Patriots, anyway? It’s not like such groups would engage in election year political activity or anything, right?
He goes on helpfully to list the compliance requirements for using Form 990, the form used by organizations seeking tax exemptions, and even mentions that Douglas Shulman, who was commissioner until December, was appointed by George W. Bush.
So what’s the big fuss? To answer that question, let’s turn the situation around and imagine that low-level staffers at the tax-collection agency had singled out a group Layne approves of — say, the Occupy movement. (The approval in this case is bidirectional. As Minyanville wrote back in June 2012, Layne’s book “Dignity” had “become a standard bearer for the Occupy movement.”)
But isn’t occupation a dirty word in Layne’s vocabulary — one that might be used by groups that “engage in election year political activity”? Shouldn’t he find it outrageous that the IRA didn’t choose to train its white light on the Occupiers? For that matter, why isn’t Layne all bent out of shape over the IRS’s ostensible dereliction in not investigating Common Cause, a tax-exempt liberal group that to has refused to file disclosure reports required under the law?
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