In the wake of one of the worst abuses of government power in recent history, many are rushing to frame the Internal Revenue Service scandal as simply an attack on conservative activists. That view risks creating a partisan political football and misses a fundamentally scarier abuse that exceeds the scandals of Watergate or any other prior government abuse.
The IRS has admitted that since May 2010 it targeted grassroots-conservative organizations that had applied for tax-exempt status, unfairly subjecting them to rigorous scrutiny due to their political leanings.
Such groups were told they were required to comply with IRS requests, no matter how absurd, in order to obtain non-profit status. Some were ask to provide book reports, names of family members, family members’ political affiliations, lists of donors and more. A report issued by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration this week begins to highlight the extent of misbehavior.