Over the past few days, the unconscionable actions of officials at the Internal Revenue Service have been made public. It turns out that the IRS targeted right-leaning and Tea Party groups. The IRS also denied and delayed their applications and went out of their way to audit them. These actions are wholly contrary to the intent of the founders, the spirit of America, and the law. However, there has long been indication that this was happening, and there are undeniable ties to Senate Democrats and the Obama administration.
In recent years, the IRS swiftly approved the tax-exempt status of left-leaning organizations, including one of President Obama’s, while taking significantly longer to approve the applications from right-leaning organizations. In one particularly frightening case, the IRS aggressively targeted the Leadership Institute and demanded information about LI’s interns.
In 2010, the New York Times published an article titled “Republicans See a Political Motive in I.R.S. Audits,” in which it is explained that Republicans warned of the “possible misuse of the Internal Revenue Service to audit conservative groups,” and that “a senior official in the Obama administration may have improperly accessed the tax records of Koch Industries.”
In 2010, Senator Max Baucus requested an IRS review of the political activities of tax-exempt groups. In a letter to the IRS, Republican Senators Orrin Hatch and Jon Kyl wrote “such a review threatens to ‘chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.’” Now it is known that these two Senators were right to be concerned. In their letter to the IRS, the two Republican senators went on to say that “IRS audits and investigations are specifically intended to be separated from the political process. We expect the IRS will adhere to those standards despite requests to the contrary from high-level political officials.” Unfortunately, those expectations were not met and their good faith was misplaced.
Notable backtracker, Senator Baucus, is now calling for hearings into IRS actions ... even though it was he who called for the IRS review into the tax-exempt organizations. Baucus now says, “These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public's trust. Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable,” though it was he who demanded the IRS to do just this.
Brian Walsh explains that for three years, “Democratic senators repeatedly and publicly pressured the IRS to engage in the very activities that they are only now condemning today,” and “Republicans repeatedly and publicly warned against this abuse of government power” and noted indicators that such abuse was occurring. He goes on to say that President Obama’s administration and prominent Democrats purposely ignored the Republicans’ cautioning.
As recently as last year, seven Democratic Senators sent a letter to the IRS “urging them to similarly investigate these outside political organizations.” According to a press release from one signer of the letter, Senator Schumer, the letter “was signed by Senators Charles E. Schumer, Michael Bennet, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen and Al Franken. It follows an earlier letter, sent to the IRS by the same of group of senators last month, that also urged the IRS to better enforce rules pertaining to 501(c)4 organizations.”
In a different New York Times article in 2012, this struggle between Democrats pressuring the IRS and Republicans concerned about constitutional rights is noted. The article mentions that the IRS sent “dozens of detailed questionnaires to Tea Party organizations applying for nonprofit tax status, demanding to know their political leanings and activities.” The article goes on to point to political motivations on the part of Democrats.
“Democrats, whose 501(c)(4)s have been outraised significantly by their Republican counterparts, have been pressing the I.R.S. for a response on the tax questions.” The Senate Democrats’ lesson seems to be when that your organizations can’t raise as much money as your opponents’ equivalent organizations, you take illegal action.
There are also undeniable ties between this scandal and the Obama administration. As it turns out, “the IRS official who led the tax-exempt organizations unit when Tea Party groups were targeted is now in charge of the IRS office responsible for Obamacare.” This revelation follows the administration’s announcement that “the official’s successor — who had only been on the job a few days — would be retiring.” President Obama claims ignorance to all of this, for, it turns out, he only knows what goes on under his watch when it is on the news.
Senate Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, Michael Bennet (Chair of the DSCC), Sheldon Whitehouse, Jeff Merkley, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen, Max Baucus, and Al Franken obviously have no qualms about pressuring the IRS to carry out their political will, and then feigning outrage at the direct product of their actions. President Obama claims ignorance in this case as he has with other scandals which occurred under his watch. This misuse of power by some leaders to target organizations which disagree with them is unacceptable and contrary to freedom. Any Senator or official who knew about this does not deserve to stick around and fail Americans any longer.