So, here’s my understanding of the IRS scandal² I am hearing from the reports and investigation by congress.
Two years ago, the IRS began using keywords to identify certain groups that were applying for 501(c)4 status which would allow them tax exemption as a social issues advocacy group. The primary identifying terms used were “patriot”, “tea party”, “constitution”, “lower taxes”, “smaller government”, and the like. These words are primarily found in conservative leaning groups and therefore delayed the applications for 200 some conservative groups for tax exempt status. The IRS demanded additional information to ensure those groups were not solely political organizations, per their testimony and public statements, and did not act in a politically biased way at any time. During the process, those groups were asked for information the government is not legally entitled to such as donor lists, unfettered access to web sites, written records of all speeches or speaking engagements the group had engaged in, and much more. *Not one left leaning group has come forward or been identified in the investigation surrounding the actions of the IRS during this time.
The groups involved, began filing complaints about the IRS’s tactics and delays which initiated the investigation by the Inspector General who released a report this week. However, prior to the report’s release (approximately 3 weeks ago), the IG’s office notified the White House’s legal staff of the investigation and its results but that team of lawyers apparently did not tell anyone else in the White House.
The President came out at the beginning of the week and told the American public that he did not find out about the investigation until it came out in the press on Friday of last week. Jay Carney, the President’s Press Secretary, who is supposed to speak on behalf of the President at the daily press briefings, said that nobody in the White House knew about the investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups until it came out in the press as well. Then Mr. Carney got in front of reporters two days ago and said that White House lawyers had, indeed, known about the investigation a couple of weeks ago.
Now, through further investigation by real reporters, we find out that Sarah Hall Ingram, the former division commissioner over the area responsible for tax exempt organizations from 2009-2012, was moved to another area of the IRS that heads up the implementation and enforcement of the new healthcare law, the Affordable Care act (Obamacare), just over a week ago¹. Her replacement, Joseph Grant, who has only been in the position since May 8, 2013, is now resigning and taking the brunt of the blame for practices that were in place before he ever took over the job. Also “resigning” from the IRS is Steven Miller, the acting IRS Commissioner, who was planning to retire from the IRS completely anyway in just a couple of months.
Both Mr. Grant and Mr. Miller are now testifying before a Congressional Committee that has been hammering them with questions of accountability for who took part in the extremely partisan and political actions of a government enforcement agency responsible for collecting and enforcing the nation’s tax laws in an unbiased way.
Through all of this “non” scandal, many on the left have decided that republicans are politicizing the issue just like they did with Benghazi. Well, duh! Of course they are! The IRS politicized something that is supposed to be done equally with all groups, individuals, and businesses; not using an extremely powerful government agency to hinder and attack anyone who disagrees with or speaks out on issues that are not in line with the politics of the current presidential administration! The IRS made this issue political, through its actions, and republicans and conservatives have the right to ask questions about the motives behind the IRS’s actions and who was aware of what they were doing and how long they knew about it.
As others have said, if this were a republican administration and the IRS had been targeting left leaning groups for additional scrutiny, the progressives, liberals, and democrats would be up in arms and screaming for impeachment and imprisonment of the President and everyone in his administration with full support of every media outlet out there.
There is no defense of any government agency using its power, given to them by the people of the United States, through election of leaders that appoint and hire the employees of those agencies, to discriminate against any social view or ideology. Period.
If you defend anything the IRS did or attack those who are trying to find out how it happened, you will have made it clear that you are as partisan as the agency that is being investigated.
We, as Americans, deserve answers to any and all questions of our government leaders and agencies, that hold them accountable for actions, words, or positions they take on any issue. We elect them and pay their salaries, not the other way around.
Oh crap, I think I might better find all my receipts and tax returns for the last 10 years or so. I just said something negative about our government. Sorry….no not really.
¹ I should note here that Steven Miller, in testimony today, said that he had been corrected on the dates in which Sarah Ingram held the position of leadership over the tax exempt division. He revised it to an approximation of just one year during the investigated time frame, 2011-2012. This warrants a discussion as to how Mr. Miller can ‘forget’ when he reassigned an upper level official to another upper level leadership position. He cannot remember when he moves or promotes the Division Commissioner to another division in the IRS that has only been in existence for a maximum of three years? Things that make ya go hmmm…
² Updated from story.