A feeding frenzy is a situation where oversaturation of food supply leads to rapid feeding by predatory animals such as a large school of fish causing sharks to enter a feeding frenzy and in their lust for prey, go wild and bite anything that moves, including each other. Human beings may not bite, or eat, anything that moves in a feeding frenzy, but they can get overly excited and lash out at a perceived enemy because of herd mentality, and in Washington D.C., there is a feeding frenzy targeting the IRS over perceived slights against neo-conservative patriot groups. There is one little issue Democrats, President Obama, and especially Republicans are overlooking; they are biting IRS examiners for due diligence in their jobs and instead of criticizing the examiners, they should be praising them.
The complaint being lodged by Republicans and teabaggers is that their applications for tax-exempt status were unfairly scrutinized instead of being rubber-stamped. The status teabaggers, patriot groups, Karl Rove, and Koch brothers sought was approval to operate under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that requires they engage in “social welfare” and not political operations. Under 501(c)(4) designation, groups like Rove’s GPS Crossroads, Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, and various teabagger and anti-government groups do not have to pay taxes or disclose their donors like traditional political organizations and political-action committees. The only condition for receiving 501(c)(4) statuses’ tax advantage and secrecy is that the organizations must refrain from traditional partisan political activity like endorsing candidates, and it is similar to evangelical Christians receiving tax exemption and campaigning from the pulpit with impunity.
The real scandal is not that the IRS did its job, it is that groups like Rove’s GPS Crossroads and Koch brother’s Americans for Prosperity put millions into the 2012 presidential and congressional races without disclosing their donors because they pretended they were charities. In fact, in the run up to the 2012 elections, many conservative organizations, nominally 501(c)(4)s, were explicitly political in their work and a group like Americans for Prosperity funded by the Koch brothers was instrumental in assisting Republicans to maintain their majority in the House of Representatives.
In fact, one application that garnered scrutiny was Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS that purported to be the largest social-welfare nonprofit involved in the 2012 election, and despite promising the IRS there would be very limited effort to influence the election, Rove’s “social welfare” group spent well in excess of $70 million from anonymous contributors. There can be little doubt conservatives were using the designation as social welfare charities to raise money, conceal donor’s names, and influence both the 2010 and 2012 elections. In all, nonprofits that were exempt from reporting their donors during the 2012 election spent a staggering $322 million on the election, and most of it (84%) came from anti-government conservative groups posing as social welfare charities.
On Monday evening, a local IRS field agent explained that the IRS agents most likely looked at applications for “social welfare” 501(c)(4) status and noticed titles like “Tea Party,” “patriot,” “family values,” and “anti-tax” and put them in a separate file for closer examination as purely political entities. Examinations, by the way, that should have automatically disqualified them as 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations that have increased significantly since just prior to the 2010 midterm elections. According to reports, there have been dozens of phony social-welfare nonprofits that have misled the IRS about their political activity on applications and tax returns that prompted a government-ethics watchdog to say “the real scandal is that a number of groups have improperly claimed tax-exempt status as section 501(c)(4) ‘social welfare’ organizations in order to hide the donors who financed their campaign activities in the 2010 and 2012 federal elections.” So instead of heaping praise on IRS employees for discerning that “social welfare” organizations looked like political campaign groups seeking anonymity for their donors and tax breaks to game campaign finance laws, they are being eaten alive by Democrats and Republicans alike.
The GOP’s main faux outrage perpetrator and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, car thief Darrell Issa, said “It’s the kind of thing that scares the American people to their core. When Americans are being targeted for audits based on their political beliefs, that needs to change.” Except that teabaggers, Karl Rove, and the Koch brothers were not targeted for their political beliefs or unfairly audited, they were investigated for applying for charitable “social welfare” status to conceal their donors and avoid paying taxes. Republicans have demanded a full investigation into the IRS employees due diligence and it may be an investigation they will live to regret when it is revealed some of their biggest contributers violated their agreement with the IRS to hide their big-money donors. It is also a fact that it was not just teabagger and conservative groups that were targeted by the IRS because the liberal Organizing for Action and Priorities USA are also being examined the same as the GOP’s voter intimidation outfit True the Vote that only proves the IRS employees were not unfairly targeting conservative groups, just groups that claimed they were purely “social welfare” oriented.
Darrell Issa is absolutely right, something needs to change at the IRS and it is they need to be allowed, no encouraged, to do their jobs unencumbered and without fear they might hurt teabaggers, Karl Rove, or the Koch brothers’ feelings. Gerald Hebert, director of a Washington campaign finance reform organization, Campaign Legal Center, called on the IRS to reject the ruse of wrongdoing and address the so-called “social welfare” 501(c)(4) designations for campaign organizations and urged them to ”enforce the law rather than turning a blind eye to widespread abuses.” Herbert also welcomed a thorough investigation and said “Congressional hearings must serve as a reminder to the IRS that maintaining a ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ stance on illegal political activity by tax-exempt groups is completely unacceptable.”
This entire false scandal exposes a sordid attempt by conservative groups like the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, Rove’s GPS Crossroads, and voter intimidation group True the Vote to game the IRS charitable organization designation for the sole purpose of concealing their donors and avoiding paying taxes. President Obama said “if” there was any wrongdoing on the part of IRS employees it was outrageous, and Attorney General Eric Holder called for an investigation into any possible criminal activity because the IRS was doing its job, but the only criminal activity is on the part of big, and small, money conservative groups lying to the IRS and claiming they are “social welfare” organizations. That any conservative organization has the temerity to self-designate as a “social welfare” organization is an outrage in and of itself, but especially when they are affiliated with teabaggers, the Koch brothers, and Karl Rove whose idea of social welfare is taking everything from the American people and handing it to the rich.
There is no doubt whatsoever that the IRS was doing its job, and after being understaffed and overwhelmed by obvious political groups seeking cover and lying to be designated as charities to hide their wealthy donors names in last two elections, they are being pilloried in Washington and the mainstream media instead praised for due diligence in executing their jobs. It doubtful though, that in their frenzy to ratchet up outrage of another phony scandal, House Republicans screaming for investigations will do anything other than appeal to other angry conservatives and divert attention to anything other than the real scandal; investigating the IRS for doing its job.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.