Despite the wishful and seemingly desperate thinking of certain media figures, it appears the Internal Revenue Service did indeed purposely flag and target conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Contrary to the claims of acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, the agency wasn't merely applying “broad” scrutiny to all political groups. The IRS focused specifically on conservatives groups, the Treasury IG told Congress this week.
Inspector General J. Russell George said he stands by the report's “determination that conservative groups were uniquely singled out for special scrutiny by the tax agency, rebutting Democrats’ contention that liberal groups also were targeted,” the Washington Times reports.
“TIGTA concluded that inappropriate criteria were used to identify potential political cases for extra scrutiny — specifically, the criteria listed in our audit report. From our audit work, we did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled ‘progressives,’ were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited,” George said.
True, he added, 30 percent of groups that used the word “progressive” were flagged for additional scrutiny -- but 100 percent of groups that used “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” had their applications flagged, stalled, and bombarded with “inappropriate” questions.
Again, this goes against earlier claims this week that the IRS scandal has been "deflated" because IRS Chief Werfel said conservative groups weren’t the only ones flagged.
“While we have multiple sources of information corroborating the use of tea party and other related criteria we described in our report, including employee interviews, e-mails, and other documents, we found no indication in any of these other materials that ‘progressives’ was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention,” Mr. George wrote.
Still not convinced the IRS showed a disproportionate interest in conservative groups? Sure, perhaps numbers help.
Twenty so-called “progressive” groups applied for tax-exempt status. Only six were flagged for additional scrutiny. Two-hundred ninety-two conservatives groups applied for tax-exempt status. All of them were flagged and had their applications put under a magnifying glass.
The IG’s Wednesday letter to Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, “punched a huge hole in Democratic claims that progressive groups were targeted as much as the Tea Party groups from May 2010-May 2012, the height of the Tea Party movement,” the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard notes.
"At this point, the evidence shows us that conservative groups were not only flagged, but targeted and abused by the IRS," said Sarah Swinehart spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee.
"As we gather the facts, we will follow them wherever they lead us. Chairman [Rep. David] Camp encourages all groups, regardless of political affiliation, that feel they may have been targeted to come forward and share their story."
Here’s the cruial part from the IG's letter:
Based on the information you flagged regarding the existence of a “Progressives” entry on BOLO lists, TIGTA performed additional research which determined that six tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 having the words “progress” or “progressive” in their names were included in the 298 cases the IRS identified as potential political cases.
We also determined that 14 tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 using the words “progress” or 'progressive' in their names were not referred for added scrutiny as potential political cases. In total, 30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words “progress” or "progressive" in their names were processed as potential political cases.
In comparison, our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit.
And here's a copy of the letter:
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Featured image AP photo.