IRS Targets Tea Party

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean the IRS isn’t targeting you.” That’s
the joke making the rounds these days. Except it isn’t a joke to the Tea Party groups and
other conservative action groups who were actually targeted by the Internal Revenue

That was the admission last week by Lois Lerner, who serves as the IRS Director
of Exempt Organizations.  She acknowledged that the agency flagged groups with the
words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exempt application. She apologized by saying that
it was “absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how
we go about selecting cases for further review.”

Her comments contradict previous testimony by the IRS. After all, the additional
scrutiny the IRS gave to these groups has been known for some time and was the subject
of investigation. At a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing more than a year
ago, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman assured Congress that there was “absolutely
no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” if they want to get
tax-exempt status.

At the time, these groups were complaining that they were required to fill out
lengthy, intrusive questionnaires. The forms sought information about the member’s
political activities and included questions about what they posted on social networking
sites. They even probed into the family backgrounds of the members of the groups.
It’s also important to remember that this was taking place during the 2012
elections. The targeted groups lost valuable time with what the IRS called “back and
forth.” It also had the effect of stifling political activity.

Senator McConnell called on the White House to conduct a review of the IRS
policies. The House Ways and Means subcommittee on Oversight asked the IRS for
every communication in its records that includes the words “tea party,” or “patriot,” or
“conservative.” I applaud Congress for their investigation. I’m Kerby Anderson, and
that’s my point of view.

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