Wednesday, May 15, 2013

IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups
The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.

The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.

In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public...

Nobody's Laughing Now
...Yet even if we assume Obama would have won re-election without any IRS shenanigans, that is no excuse for the wrongful conduct. Richard Nixon carried 49 states and nearly 61% of the total popular vote in 1972. No one thinks the burglary at the Watergate office complex was necessary for his re-election. Yet even a landslide does not mitigate an abuse of power....

...The big news over the weekend was that, as the Washington Post put it, "senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011," contrary to the claim we heard Friday....

Why Did the IRS Target Conservative Groups?
...Since the Tea Party was a brand-new movement in 2010, they couldn’t possibly have had any data indicating that such groups were more likely to be doing something improper. So how exactly did they come up with this filter? There is no answer that does not ultimately resolve to “political bias.”

If Tea Party groups really were driving much of the post–Citizens United explosion, there was no need to specifically search for the words “tea party” or “patriot,” because those words would naturally be overrepresented in a random sample of new applications. The reason you specifically search for those words is that you want to target those groups specifically, and not, say, applications with “Progress,” “Organizing,” or “Action” in them.

For that matter, even if they also targeted liberal keywords, it would still be just as big a problem. It’s hard to think of any reasonable standard for extra review that starts with “I didn’t like their name.”

Further evidence: given that they don’t seem to have taken action against any of the groups they hassled, it seems clear that this was, in fact, an objectively bad filter.

Rather than learning from this, the IRS instead did basically the same thing again, apparently on the logic that people who dislike taxes or complain about the government can’t possibly be promoting social welfare....

In IRS scandal, echoes of Watergate
...The burglary occurred in 1972, the climax came in 1974, but40 years ago this week — May 17, 1973 — the Senate Watergate hearings began exploring the nature of Richard Nixon’s administration. Now the nature of Barack Obama’s administration is being clarified as revelations about IRS targeting of conservative groups merge with myriad Benghazi mendacities.

This administration aggressively hawked the fiction that the Benghazi attack was just an excessively boisterous movie review. Now we are told that a few wayward souls in Cincinnati, with nary a trace of political purpose, targeted for harassment political groups with “tea party” and “patriot” in their titles. The Post reported Monday that the IRS also targeted groups that “criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution.” Credit the IRS’s operatives with understanding who and what threatens the current regime.

Jay Carney, whose unenviable job is not to explain but to explain away what his employers say, calls the IRS’s behavior “inappropriate.” No, using the salad fork for the entree is inappropriate. Using the Internal Revenue Service for political purposes is a criminal offense....