In September 1989 the New York Times magazine published an excerpt of “The IRS: A Law Unto Itself,” a book by former Times reporter David Burnham. Burnham detailed how the Internal Revenue Service had misused its power in an attempt to stifle political dissent:
During the Johnson and Nixon Administrations, the focus of the I.R.S.’s effort at political control was individuals and organizations demonstrating for civil rights and against the American presence in Vietnam. . . . On June 16, 1969, Randolph W. Thrower, I.R.S. Commissioner during the Nixon Administration, wrote a memorandum for the record about a meeting he had had that day with Arthur F. Burns, then counselor to the President. According to Thrower, Burns said that Richard M. Nixon was concerned ”over the fact that tax-exempt funds may be supporting activist groups engaged in stimulating riots both on the campus and within our inner cities.”
In December 1973, Judge Charles Richey handed down a decision in which he “formally reprimanded” the agency for “engaging in political manipulations” in denying nonprofit status to a left-wing outfit called the Project on Corporate Responsibility.