IRS inspector general’s report small comfort for Tea Party groups
Following the day's myriad news stories on Benghazi, Associated Press allegations and the IRS targeting right-of-center organizations, the highly anticipated Treasury Department's report on the blossoming IRS scandal released late Tuesday is relatively small comfort for Tea Party groups, according to political strategist and attorney Michael Bakker.
The report does strongly suggest that management style of President Barack Obama -- leading from behind -- may have presented the White House with yet another scandal: lack of adequate supervision at the Internal Revenue Service that allowed agents to target tea party, patriot and other conservative groups for additional probing whenever they applied for "501 (c) (3) nonprofit" tax exempt status, according to a report released Tuesday by the Department of Treasury.
Inadequate management contributed to rank-and-file agents to target mostly Republican and Libertarian leaning organizations for more than 18 months, according to the report of the Treasury Department's inspector general's investigation.
The powerful Treasury Department's tax-collecting and enforcement agency, the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), had already conceded on Friday that its agents targeted conservative PACs and Tea Party groups for politically-motivated audits during the 2012 election.
"While the Obama White House claims that it called for a full investigation into the allegations, I believe these scandals -- Benghazi, Associated Press and IRS -- are the result of Chicago politics infecting the rest of the nation," said Mike Bakker.
According to the director of the IRS' department overseeing tax-exempt organizations, Lois Lerner, employees at an IRS office in Ohio began a probe of organizations using the terms "patriot" or "Tea Party." IRS agents conducted politically-motivated reviews during the 2012 election cycle, including the presidential race, to see if conservative groups were violating their tax-exempt status.
However, Lerner backed away from her original statement and told reporters that the decision to conduct the probe was not partisan, just an "error in judgment," by low-level employees who were "less sensitive than they should have been about the impact this [harassment] might have on the Obama-Romney race and other elections in November 2012.
"We made some mistakes. We apologize," said Lerner.
"Mistakes? Writing a wrong number or name on a tax form is a mistake. Sending agents with the power to violate a person's or group's privacy is harassment at best, out-and-out criminal use of intimidation at worst," said political strategist Mike Bakker on Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately responded to Lerner's announcement and, like many conservatives, he said that the IRS's announcement was proof that allegations made by conservative groups were "well-founded."
White House Spokesman Jay Carney said during his regular briefing on Monday that IRS' conduct was "inappropriate," and the matter was already under investigation.
But many conservatives are demanding that the White House conduct a "transparent, government-wide review," and not the usual cover-up as seen in the Benghazi and Fast and Furious scandals.
According to the acclaimed talk show host and attorney, Mark Levin, his public-interest group Landmark Legal Foundation had been probing the IRS's investigations of conservative and Tea Party groups.
Levin said that the IRS dispatched agents to commit "outrageous" investigations of groups and citizens who oppose the Obama administration and agenda.
IRS agents began targeting groups with "Tea Party," ''Patriots" or "9/12 Project" -- a movement started by talk show sensation Glenn Beck -- in their applications as far back as March 2010. The IRS later included groups that promoted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
"Adding 'the Constitution and the Bill of Rights' to the list of targets strongly suggests that the Democrats, including Obama and his minions, view America's founding documents threatening to their leftist agenda," said political strategist Michael Baker.
In several cases, the IRS conceded that its agents obtained lists of donors from groups seeking a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit tax exempt status. In fact, there are those who claim the donor lists were turned over to a far-left media organization, ProPublica.org, which is located in New York City.
The report comes on the same day that Attorney General Eric Holder announced a Justice Department investigation to determine whether IRS officials broke any laws. Holder said he wasn't sure which laws may have been broken.