Strassel: Obama campaign asked IRS to target conservatives in 2008

Strassel: Obama campaign asked IRS to target conservatives in 2008

The White House insists President Obama is “outraged” by the “inappropriate” targeting and harassment of conservative groups. If true, it’s a remarkable turnaround for a man who helped pioneer those tactics.

On Aug. 21, 2008, the conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad—a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.

What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”

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