ABA Journal


Tax Law

Justice Department will investigate IRS after official admits some conservative groups targeted

May 14, 2013, 06:45 pm CDT


OK, so I read somewhere, forget where, that most of these groups were nearly named the same and nearly had the same wording in their mission/goal. Now, I'm sorry, if you have 100 groups, 80 of them Conservative and majority of them name nearly the same and having almost identical mission/goal written down, would you or would you not see a major red flag with that and put them for "extra scrutiny"? One major down fall of being as tight knit as the GOP/conservative groups, same message from many places, will red flag you when doing something like this with making groups. I'll bet you if it were progressive groups nothing ever would have been said, or something would have been put on the second to last page in small box in the last section of the newspaper. I'm sorry but the GOP needs to regroup and quit playing the "victim card", especially when they are doing it to themselves. Also, why hide all your donors? If you feel strongly about something stand up and say it, don't hide in the shadows. And you wonder why people are distrusting you more and more.

By Hawk on 2013 05 14, 12:44 pm CDT

Well, and there are some great screenshots floating around of these groups' Facebook groups blatantly violating their 501(c)(3) regulations.

I don't know that it's actually unlawful just to apply greater scrutiny, as long as you aren't creating new requirements out of thin air.

If I had my way, we'd be applying this scrutiny to ALL political and religious non-profits.

By Anonymous on 2013 05 14, 1:19 pm CDT

@1 The IRS has already apologized. Accordingly, wrong doing has already been established.

The only issue now is how far up the food chain this abuse of power goes.

24 hours ago, this abuse of authority was nominally limited to the IRS's Cincinnati offices.

According to the story above, posted in today's Washington Post, folks in Washington were involved as well.

By Yankee on 2013 05 14, 1:30 pm CDT

First Benghazii, then the IRS, now wiretaping the AP - when will the Obama circle of corruption ever end? This has to be one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.

By tim17 on 2013 05 14, 1:55 pm CDT

@4 Ironically, the Senate Watergate hearings - - - the beginning of the end for Richard Nixon - - -began 40 years ago this week: May 17, 1973.

By Yankee on 2013 05 14, 2:01 pm CDT

I didn't say it wasn't bad form. Just that it isn't clear to me that it's unlawful. As I said, the evidence is out there that these groups were, in fact, violating the regulations pretty flagrantly.

Then again, I think all groups should be subject to that level of scrutiny.

By Anonymous on 2013 05 14, 2:04 pm CDT

The issue is voter fraud. In Cincinnati they have, for the first time that I know of, prosecuted for voter fraud. One was a Poll Worker who had voted 8 times while she was working at the Polls. One was a catholic Nun who voted for a deceased friend. Two were out of state residents, who had never lived in Ohio, and who voted by absentee ballot. Two were local residents who had voted for deceased friends.
Now we have the IRS going after any tax-exempt organization, or application, with "tea party" "liberty" or "patriot" in it's name. A story on NPR yesterday from one of the applicants described a relentless process of discouragement until such groups became discouraged and applications were withdrawn. ( Goal accomplished). Apparently this process was happening in every major location in the US. ( Not just in Cincinnati ).
This is a BIG story, because it suggests that it was sanctioned conduct across all of the field offices of the IRS.

By davebert on 2013 05 14, 3:18 pm CDT

#5 -- And Dr. Joyce Brothers died yesterday. Just as relevant to the IRS investigation. One huge difference = Nixon actively tried to obstruct investigations into White House originations of things like CREEP's ordering the IRS to heavily audit liberal groups -- including by firing two attorneys general who would not back off.. In contrast, Obama has decried what the IRS has done and insists on such investigations.

Agreed that everyone at the IRS who ordered or approved these politically-based reviews should be drawn and quartered, and that Congress should fully investigate to see whether or not any of this was done under instructions or with the knowledge of anyone in the White House. So far, there is no such evidence. If there is, punishment should go higher up.

But as a rule, investigations designed to find evidence that support pre-determined politically-motivated and -expedient theories are likely to ignore inconveniently exculpatory evidence. So, forgive me if I'm as skeptical about any House investigation as you are of the White House's denials.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 14, 3:48 pm CDT

#7 -- Voter fraud? How? What's the posible connection between auditing 501(c)(3) groups' status and voter fraud? Be specific.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 14, 3:50 pm CDT

No! Don't be specific about voter fraud! Keep on topic, please.

<b>Lee Rawles
Web Producer</b>

By Lee Rawles on 2013 05 14, 5:29 pm CDT

Andy and All: I am very uncomfortable about feeling that what little we know is just the tip of the iceberg.
The IRS incident suggests that this was not a low-level clerk in the Cincinnati office, as was suggested in the initial report, but across all of the offices, as was reported in the NPR story. If this is the tip of the iceberg, and clearly an attempt to derail a group of like thinking voters from organizing into a strong voting bloc, then this is, in my opinion, voter fraud.
You add that to the possibility of a voters all over the country voting multiple times, and without any repercussion or prosecution, as suggested in the Cincinnati case where it seemed rather easy to discover how any election could be manipulated by a few dishonest and amoral voters, which amounts to organized voter fraud. .
I have a very sick feeling in my stomach that this kind of voter fraud is just the tip of the iceberg, and that investigation will show a much larger plan to manipulate our local and national elections, all of which those responsible desperately want to sweep under the rug and make go away.

By davebert on 2013 05 14, 6:20 pm CDT

This story is extremely fluid. The Daily Caller for example is reporting today that the IRS funneled donor and donor tax data on 31 conservative groups to a certain nonprofit liberal journalism organization. Whether any of that proves to be true is yet to be seen, although the atmosphere of distrust that now exists must be laid at the feet of those elements within (and possibly without) the IRS who allowed this situation to happen, namely, exercising the tremendous authority they have in a less than even handed basis.

By Yankee on 2013 05 14, 7:25 pm CDT

What I read is that they provided information on groups that had applied for non-profit status.

Out of curiosity, does anyone know whether that information is public record? Or is it confidential?

Maybe the core lesson here is that the IRS needs to be independent from the rest of the government and scrutinize ALL non-profits to make sure that they aren't engaging in impermissible political advocacy.

By Anonymous on 2013 05 14, 7:33 pm CDT

White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a press conference Tuesday that the White House was notified about the IRS targeting tea party groups “several weeks ago.”

During a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday, President Obama was asked about the IRS scandal. He responded, ”I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this. I think it was on Friday.”

A liar? Incompetent? Both?

By Marc on 2013 05 14, 9:26 pm CDT

Bottom line: It is undeniable that if you are looking for improper political use of a 501(c)(4), auditing groups is blatantly political names is simply common sense.

By Doodle Dandy on 2013 05 15, 12:26 am CDT

@14 You ask: "A liar? Incompetent? Both?"

A competent liar. An incompetent President.

By Yankee on 2013 05 15, 1:17 am CDT

It must be great to live in a world where you never have to prove or have evidence of things in order to feel justified saying them. Like some immense, schizophrenic fugue where reality shapes itself to meet your subconscious desires.

By Anonymous on 2013 05 15, 1:27 am CDT

#17 -- That's business as usual for the House majority power -- first, fantasize the most pernicious possible spin on any given controversy, then go all out to look only for evidence confirming that spin.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 15, 8:36 pm CDT

Well, the problem, again, is this: They have worked so hard to turn so many non-scandals into manufactured scandals that, like the boy who cried wolf, no one can tell when there's really a serious problem anymore.

Maybe this really is that bad, even without spin.

But they hate Obama with such unreasoning, rabid rage that now it's much more difficult for me to tell when they have a legitimate point.

By Anonymous on 2013 05 15, 8:55 pm CDT

Give it a rest. Liberal of all types acknowledge that this is a major scandal (joining the other two major scandals) threatening the Obama Administration. The fact that Obama speaks to the Nation at 6pm today demonstrates that he even understands that.

By Yankee on 2013 05 15, 10:01 pm CDT

@20: That should be "reads to the nation."

By Marc on 2013 05 15, 10:05 pm CDT

#20 -- The odds are greater that on January 19, 2017 Obama will still be president than that Mitch McConnell will still be a US Senator.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 15, 10:49 pm CDT

You're right: Obama will hang onto the Presidency until Noon on January 20, 2017. The Democrats in the Senate, who put party over country, would never vote to remove Obama from office regardless of what evidence might be produced against Obama.

By Yankee on 2013 05 16, 12:13 am CDT

You've made one of your more common mistakes. Let me fix that for you. You can thank me later.

You’re right: [president] will hang onto the Presidency until Noon on [date]. The [president's political party] in the Senate, who put party over country, would never vote to remove [the president] from office regardless of what evidence might be produced against [that president].

By Anonymous on 2013 05 16, 1:47 am CDT

@21: That should be “took the bar” which Americans say as opposed to "wrote the bar" which Americans don't say.

By Doodle Dandy on 2013 05 16, 8:42 am CDT

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