Far-left media whine that conservative groups targeted by IRS had it coming

Far-left media whine that conservative groups targeted by IRS had it coming
Blinders, an indispensable tool for journalists on the left
Blinders, an indispensable tool for journalists on the left

On May 10, shortly after it was reported that the Internal Revenue Service had flagged conservative political groups for extra scrutiny during the 2012 election cycle, the agency issued an apology for its actions. According to The New York Times and lesser MSM figures, the IRS shouldn’t have wasted its breath.

Steve Benen, at The Maddow Blog quotes the Times piece as evidence that the IRS was simply doing its job:

Each one of these [targeted] groups said they [sic] deserved tax-exempt status, and each one is now complaining that the IRS subjected them to unfair scrutiny.

We’re talking about political operations, set up for political reasons, with political goals. What’s wrong with that? Nothing in particular, except when these organizations insist they deserve tax-exempt status because they’re not really political, but rather, they’re ‘social welfare’ entities.

This argument conveniently ignores the findings of the report released on May 14 by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. According to the IG’s investigation, the IRS has admitted to sitting on applications for tax-exempt status by Tea Party groups for political reasons.

The scope of agency probes into conservative groups was also beyond the pale in both the volume of documentation the agency requested (Toby Marie Walker, president of the Waco Tea Party said the IRS asked her “for a U-Haul truck’s worth of information”) and the nature of the questions asked. During former Acting Commissioner Steven Miller’s appearance before Congress on May 18, it was revealed that the IRS in 2009 asked a pro-life group about the “content of its prayers.”

The agency, moreover, did not limit its probe to groups with the words “tea party” or “conservative” in their titles. The IRS also singled out groups that educated on the Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights.

The Times and Benen are right that the IRS has a responsibility to investigate groups seeking 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. But it has an obligation to exercise its authority fairly and equally. This, the title of Benen’s piece notwithstanding, the agency failed in spades to do.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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