A newly released report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee On Investigations confirms that both liberal and conservatives groups received the same bad treatment and were targeted by the IRS. In short, Republicans lied about the IRS only targeting conservatives.
The Executive Summary section of the report put the Republican IRS conspiracy down for the count,
The Subcommittee investigation has reached many of the same conclusions as the TIGTA audit of the 501(c)(4) application process. The Subcommittee investigation found that the IRS used inappropriate screening criteria when it flagged for increased scrutiny applications based upon the applicants’ names or political views rather than direct evidence of their involvement with campaign activities. The Subcommittee investigation also found significant program mismanagement, including years-long delays in processing 501(c)(4) applications; inappropriate, intrusive, and burdensome questioning of groups; and poor communication and coordination between IRS officials in Washington and Cincinnati. At the same time, like TIGTA, the Subcommittee investigation found no evidence of IRS political bias in selecting 501(c)(4) applications for heightened review, as distinguished from using poor judgment in crafting the selection criteria. Based on investigative work that went beyond what TIGTA examined, the Subcommittee investigation also determined that the same problems affected IRS review of 501(c)(4) applications filed by liberal groups.
In addition, the Subcommittee investigation found that, by focusing exclusively on how the IRS handled 501(c)(4) applications filed by conservative groups and excluding any comparative data on applications filed by liberal groups, the TIGTA audit produced distorted audit results that continue to be misinterpreted. The TIGTA audit engagement letter stated that the audit’s “overall objective” was to examine the “consistency” of IRS actions in identifying and reviewing 501(c)(4) applications, including whether “conservative groups” experienced “inconsistent treatment.” Instead, the audit focused solely on IRS treatment of conservative groups, and omitted any mention of other groups. For example, while the TIGTA report criticized the IRS for using “Tea Party,” “9/12,” and “Patriot” to identify applications filed by conservative groups, it left out that the IRS also used “Progressive,” “ACORN,” “Emerge,” and
“Occupy” to identify applications filed by liberal groups. While the TIGTA report criticized the IRS for subjecting conservative groups to delays, burdensome questions, and mismanagement, it failed to disclose that the IRS subjected liberal groups to the same treatment. The result was that when the TIGTA audit report presented data showing conservative groups were treated inappropriately, it was interpreted to mean conservative groups were handled differently and less favorably than liberal groups, when in fact, both groups experienced the same mistreatment. By excluding any analysis of how liberal groups were handled and failing to provide critical context
for its findings, the TIGTA audit inaccurately and unfairly damaged public confidence in the impartiality of the IRS.
The bipartisan report confirmed what liberals have known since shortly after the scandal broke. Liberal groups were also targeted by the IRS. People like Rep. Darrell Issa have been claiming for more than a year that conservatives were targeting by an Obama plot. The Senate report debunks this claim, and highlights the widespread issues with the handling of 501(c) (4) applications.
For Republicans, the IRS scandal is really about preventing new rules and investigations that would hurt the flow of Koch money into our elections. John Boehner admitted earlier this year that House Republicans were hoping to use the IRS scandal as grounds for impeaching President Obama and Attorney General Holder. Those who claim that the IRS targeted only conservatives are lying.
As much as Republicans want the story to be true, it isn’t. There is no vast Obama conspiracy to use the IRS to punish his political critics. In light of what this report reveals, Republicans should drop their waste of taxpayer funds IRS investigations. There was no conspiracy. There was no targeting of just conservatives. The IRS scandal is dead and buried, but this won’t stop Republicans from repeating the completely debunked lie.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association