[Ed. – The whole article is a must-read. Indeed, not a thing has ever been done that would stop the targeting in its tracks. The known IRS targeting scandal probably is just the tip of the iceberg.]
Evidence suggests targeting will continue and indeed spread —even assuming the IRS henceforth uses objective criteria to approve tax-exempt applications.
It is important to note the structural factors that caused the scandal and assess the likelihood of recurrence. As Kimberly Strassel documents in “The Intimidation Game,” the Citizens United case fueled a cauldron of pressure on federal agencies having regulatory authority over political speech. The president, Senate Democrats including Chuck Schumer, Max Baucus, and Sheldon Whitehouse, and campaign finance reform groups blitzed the federal apparatus to stop uninvited political speech. In a 2010 conference at Duke University Lerner described this pressure:
Everyone is up in arms because they don’t like [Citizens United]. The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it so they want the IRS to fix the problem . . . So everybody’s screaming at us right now. Fix it now! Before the election! Can’t you see how much these people are spending . . . I can’t do anything right now.
The IRS got the message and “fixed it.” Yet the same forces “up in arms” over Citizens United are still “screaming.”
Some, like Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), doubled down with the IRS. Whitehouse, one of the main “screamers,” recently urged the IRS to start targeting conservative “dark money groups” anew…
Others moved to new targets, most notably the Securities and Exchange Commission and its chairwoman, Mary Jo White. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been on the warpath to get White removed as chair.