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    Default IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    IRS apologizes for targeting conservative groups

    Fredreka Schouten and Gregory Korte, USA TODAY1:43 p.m. EDT May 10, 2013




    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for subjecting Tea Party groups to additional scrutiny during the 2012 election, but denied any political motive.


    Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews. Her remarks came at an American Bar Association gathering.
    Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong.


    "That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review," Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.


    "The IRS would like to apologize for that," she added.


    In a follow-up statement, the IRS said it has fixed the system, and that an influx of tax-exempt applications in an election year contributed to the problem. "Mistakes were made initially, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan rationale," said the statement from IRS spokeswoman Sara Eguren.



    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., asked the White House to conduct a government-wide review to ensure "that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views."



    Jenny Beth Martin, the national coordinator of Tea Party Patriots, said the apology wasn't good enough. She called on the IRS workers involved to resign and Congress to investigate.



    "The IRS has demonstrated the most disturbing, illegal and outrageous abuse of government power," Martin said in a statement."This deliberate targeting and harassment of tea party groups reaches a new low in illegal government activity and overreach. It is suspicious that the activity of these 'low-level workers' was unknown to IRS leadership at the time it occurred."


    Conservative groups complained during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS. They said the agency asked them an inordinate number of questions to justify their tax-exempt status, and 27 Tea Party groups joined with conservative lawyer Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice to push back on the IRS.


    Kentucky 9/12 Project is one of the conservative organizations that joined with Sekulow to complain of government overreach.


    Its executive director, Eric Wilson, said his group applied for tax-exempt status in December 2010. He said the IRS responded with an 88-page questionnaire that sought all the organization's correspondence, the names of its members -- along with details of group's activity on Facebook and Twitter. It was eventually granted its nonprofit designation last month.


    "I would love to say that I feel vindicated, but to think that the government has the capability to reach into the lives of people in our organization is not only scary but describes the times we live in today," Wilson said of the apology.


    Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities but it cannot be their primary activity.


    Congressional Republicans expressed surprise at the apology, even after pushing the IRS to explain persistent questioning of Tea Party groups since 2011.



    In March 2012, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., asked the IRS to explain why it was "questioning new tax-exempt applicants, including grassroots political entities such as Tea Party groups, about their operations and donors."



    In response, the IRS acknowledged last June that there were backlogs in processing tax-exempt determinations for political groups, which were attributed to a spike in applications during an election year. But IRS Deputy Commissioner Steven T. Miller then assured Boustany that the office "took steps to coordinate the handling of the cases to ensure consistency."



    "As sometimes happens, however, coordination efforts resulted in some cases being in inventory for a longer time than expected," he wrote.


    Boustany, chairman of the oversight subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the IRS had repeatedly denied the allegations.



    "Despite their unwillingness to cooperate, more than a year later, the IRS has now admitted to what we long suspected — it was targeting tea party groups," Boustany said in a statement. "The IRS's 'too little too late' response is unacceptable, and I will continue to work to ensure there are protections in place so no American, regardless of political affiliation, has their right to free speech threatened by the IRS."
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Iasa wants oversight

    McConnel is calling out Obama over this.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    This administration is OUT OF CONTROL!

    IRS Apologizes For Inappropriately Targeting Conservative Political Groups In 2012 Election

    By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER 05/10/13 01:21 PM ET EDT











    WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.


    Organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.


    In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.


    "That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review," Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.


    "The IRS would like to apologize for that," she added.


    Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice.


    Agency officials found out about the practice last year and moved to correct it, the IRS said in a statement. The statement did not specify when officials found out.
    About 75 groups were inappropriately targeted. None had their tax-exempt status revoked, Lerner said.


    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called on the White House to investigate.



    "Today's acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year's national election is not enough," McConnell said. "I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not under way at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views."


    Many conservative groups complained during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS. They accused the agency of frustrating their attempts to become tax exempt by sending them lengthy, intrusive questionnaires.


    The forms, which the groups made available at the time, sought information about group members' political activities, including details of their postings on social networking websites and about family members.


    Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities but it cannot be their primary activity.


    IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that the IRS was not targeting groups based on their political views.


    "There's absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people" who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman told a House Ways and Means subcommittee.


    Shulman was appointed by President George W. Bush. His 6-year term ended in November. President Barack Obama has yet to nominate a successor. The agency is now being run by acting Commissioner Steven Miller.


    "The Ways and Means Committee has persistently pushed the IRS to explain why it appeared to be unfairly targeting some political groups over others – a charge they repeatedly denied," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee.


    "The IRS's `too little too late' response is unacceptable, and I will continue to work to ensure there are protections in place so no American, regardless of political affiliation, has their right to free speech threatened by the IRS," Boustany said.


    Tea Party groups were livid on Friday.


    "I don't think there's any question we were unfairly targeted," said Tom Zawistowski, who until recently was president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, an alliance of tea party groups in the state.


    Zawistowski's group was among many conservative organizations that battled the IRS over what they saw as its discriminatory treatment of their effort to gain non-profit status. The group first applied for non-profit status in June 2009, and it was finally granted on Dec. 7, 2012, he said – one month after Election Day.


    During the 2012 election, many tea party groups applied for tax-exempt status under section 501 (c) (4) of the federal tax code, which grants tax-exempt status to social welfare groups. Unlike other charitable groups, these organizations are allowed to participate in political activities but their primary activity must be social welfare.


    That determination is up to the IRS.


    Lerner said the number of groups filing for this tax-exempt status more than doubled from 2010 to 2012, to more than 3,400. To handle the influx, the IRS centralized its review of these applications in an office in Cincinnati.


    Lerner said this was done to develop expertise among staffers and consistency in their reviews. As part of the review, staffers look for signs that groups are participating in political activity. If so, IRS agents take a closer look to make sure that politics isn't the group's primary activity, Lerner said.


    As part of this process, agents in Cincinnati came up with a list of things to look for in an application. As part of the list, they included the words, "tea party" and "patriot," Lerner said.


    "It's the line people that did it without talking to managers," Lerner. "They're IRS workers, they're revenue agents."


    In all, about 300 groups were singled out for additional review, Lerner said. Of those, about a quarter were singled out because they had "tea party" or "patriot" somewhere in their applications.


    The IRS statement said that once applications were chosen for review, they all "received the same, even-handed treatment."


    Lerner said 150 of the cases have been closed and no group had its tax-exempt status revoked, though some withdrew their applications.


    "Mistakes were made initially, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan rationale," the IRS said in a statement. "We fixed the situation last year and have made significant progress in moving the centralized cases through our system."


    Marcus S. Owens, who spent a decade leading the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, said Friday that it made sense that the problem arose among workers in Cincinnati because the agency "really has delegated a lot of authority" to local offices to make decisions about handling their workload.


    But Tea Party groups weren't buying the idea that the decision to target them was solely the responsibility of low-level IRS workers.


    "It is suspicious that the activity of these `low-level workers' was unknown to IRS leadership at the time it occurred," said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, which describes itself as the nation's largest tea party organization. "President Obama must also apologize for his administration ignoring repeated complaints by these broad grassroots organizations of harassment by the IRS in 2012, and make concrete and transparent steps today to ensure this never happens again."
    Last edited by American Patriot; May 10th, 2013 at 18:20.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Companion Threads:



    Tea Party and other conservative groups targeted by IRS as agency admits actions






    IRS taxation without representation

    On May 10, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) formally issued an apology and admitted that they targeted and flagged select groups and businesses who predominately carried a conservative or Tea Party label. In a mea culpa by the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, department head Lois Learner admitted that individuals purposely flagged certain organization during the 2012 election, and apologized for the agencies indiscretions.

    The Internal Revenue Service is apologizing for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

    Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews. - Associated Press
    Conspiracy theories of election fraud and unfair election practices, such as one case in Ohio, where a certain county declared 100% of the votes for President Obama, and had a 108% total over the number of legally registered voters allowed, only increase with today's IRS apology that organizations opposing Obama were specifically targeted by a department under the control of the Executive Branch.

    Presidential and Congressional election campaigns have evolved from simple re-election committees, setup by incumbent politicians to help acquire donations and get local organizations to curry favor with the citizenry, to the creation of Political Actions Committees (Pacs), which may have nothing to do with a specific politician, and are often funded by private or corporate interests. These PACs are quite often the target of media, activists, and in the case of the 2012 election, taxpayer funded government agencies.

    With the current ongoing scandals in the White House over Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and special loans and grants to former campaign contributors in the green energy industry, today's revelation of targeted political motivations by agents in the IRS during the 2012 election bring more concern over the actions and transparency in the Obama administration.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Republicans slam IRS on 'Tea Party' targeting





    By Patrick Temple-West and Susan Heavey
    WASHINGTON | Fri May 10, 2013 3:51pm EDT




    (Reuters) - Republican lawmakers blasted the Internal Revenue Service on Friday after a top IRS official apologized for "inappropriate" targeting by the agency of applications for tax-exempt status from conservative political groups.


    In a practice that conservatives complained about during the 2012 election campaign, organizations that used the words "patriots" or "Tea Party" in their tax-exempt status filings were flagged by the IRS for further review.


    Lois Lerner, director of the IRS tax-exempt office, said the practice "was absolutely incorrect and it was inappropriate."


    Speaking at an American Bar Association conference in Washington, Lerner said, "We would like to apologize for that."


    None of the groups that were given extra scrutiny have been rejected yet for tax-exempt status, she said.


    Lerner said the screening process was "absolutely not" influenced by anyone in the Obama administration.


    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell immediately called for a White House review to assure that "thuggish practices" were not being used by the government against Americans.


    House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who earlier called for the IRS inspector general to look into allegations, said his committee will "aggressively follow up ... and hold responsible officials accountable."


    Republican Senator Rob Portman in a statement accused the IRS of "overt and excessive harassment of groups targeted for their political beliefs" and urged "additional safeguards ... to prevent this obtrusive behavior in the future."


    Tax-exempt applications, for groups ranging from hospitals to labor unions, are routinely reviewed by IRS civil servants.


    Known as 501(c)(4) groups after the section of the tax code that makes them tax-exempt, such organizations can collect money from anonymous donors and spend it on advertising. To stay tax-exempt, they cannot endorse a candidate or a political party.


    The number of groups seeking 501(c)(4) status has jumped since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 "Citizens United" decision that lifted government limits on corporate spending in federal elections.


    Such contributions became controversial during the 2012 election season, as groups favoring both major political parties financed negative ad campaigns to try to influence the race between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.


    "I will be discussing this further with the head of the IRS and expect a full briefing and report as to how this happened," said Republican Senator Orrin Hatch in a statement.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    I hope heads roll... all the way to the top Thief in Chief.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    There was an old joke when I worked for the White House.

    It was "Have you been audited lately?"

    What the joke was, was that when someone gave us a hard time while we were trying to get our systems set up, or when they were rude to us because they hated Reagan (and we ran into a few of them) one of us would look at the other after we were out of ear shot and say "Have you been audited lately?" and we'd laugh because we knew if we suggested something like that it would scare them or at least piss them off (right back). Though we NEVER said anything like that directly to anyone, nor would have, we all knew we had the "power" to do something like that if there was a problem.

    Therein lies the problem.

    When a government official (even me, when I was one) uses their position of authority to abuse or take away others' rights, or cause them undue and unnecessary pain or trouble, those government officials should be removed immediately from their positions and in all likelihood prosecuted.

    That we even KNEW and understood we COULD "get away" with such a thing if we'd tried it makes it abundantly clear to ME that an order from higher up in the White House was promulgated down to those idiots at IRS to give the Right Wing "nut jobs" a hard time to make them back the hell off.

    The chances are GOOD that we could have won the bloody elections of the assholes in the GOP had NOT push Romney on us. The chances were even HIGHER if there had been some kind of moral activities performed in the IRS.

    Every fucking IRS agent, manager and section chief who was in office during that time period needs to be fired and prosecuted.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Carney is claiming IRS is an "independent organization". Seems to me that all of them answer to the President eventually.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Just thought I'd put this here....

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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Now it’s the little people in Cincinnati?

    By Jennifer Rubin, Published: May 10, 2013 at 3:33 pmE-mail reporter



    Bloomberg



    The answer to every scandal in this administration is: The career people did it.
    Now it is the career people at the Internal Revenue Service, as The Post reports:
    The IRS official who oversees tax-exempt groups, Lois Lerner, acknowledged at a conference on Friday the actions were wrong and apologized, according to the Associated Press. Lerner said groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status faced additional screening.


    She said that between 2010 and 2012, about 75 of these groups were selected for extra screening as part of a broader review of political advocacy organizations that were seeking tax-exempt status. Front-line IRS employees working in the tax-exempt unit in Cincinnati selected groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, she said, as a shorthand because of the proliferation of these groups in recent years. [Emphasis added.]
    If you buy that last part, I’ve got a video that started riots in Egypt (and didn’t in Libya) to sell you.
    First and foremost, let me say that the administration has now entered the “not since Nixon” phase of its tenure. Talking points scrubbed. A State Department accountability review board that has to be reviewed itself. A politicized Justice Department.
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared that, no, an apology is not good enough.
    Today’s acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year’s national election is not enough. Today, I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views. Last year, amid reports that the Obama administration was using the levers of executive power to harass conservative political groups in Kentucky and elsewhere, I issued a very public warning to the administration that the targeting of private citizens on the basis of their political views would not be tolerated. Today’s apology by the IRS is proof that those concerns were well founded.


    My former editor at Commentary, John Podhoretz, adds:
    [I]n 2009, COMMENTARY (a non-profit) received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service threatening the revocation of the institution’s standing as a non-profit due to a claim that on our website we had crossed the line in the 2008 election from analysis to explicit advocacy of the candidacy of John McCain for president. (Non-profits are not permitted to endorse candidates.) The charge was false — all we had done was reprint a speech delivered at a COMMENTARY event by then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman in which he had endorsed McCain. . . . The investigation into COMMENTARY came out of the Columbus office.
    The degree to which politics has come to predominate on everything from the sequester to national security to the civil rights division and now to the IRS is quite startling. It is a pattern of sublimating everything to partisan politics and electoral advantage. It is not good enough for the administration to investigate itself. We have had too many self-serving investigations already.


    As David Anndelman describes, the State Department’s investigations are anything but independent:
    On March 28, the [Inspector General's] office opened its own probe of an Accountability Review Board’s examination of the security lapses before, during and after the actual Benghazi attack. But the IG’s office is itself headed by a career foreign service officer, Harold Geisel, serving in an interim capacity, appointed by the secretary of State (not the president) and never confirmed by the Senate — which raises at least a suggestion of yet another case of State investigating his own.


    Peel back the onion and there are even more layers. It seems that Geisel, [Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick] Kennedy [who denied requests for additional security in Benghazi] and a third Foreign Service officer Richard Shinnick all came up through the same “cone” — the management function at State. All are Foreign Service officers, present or former, and all have had some involvement with Benghazi or its aftermath. Shinnick was named a member of the Accountability Review Board, which Geisel and the IG’s office are now investigating.
    Are you dizzy yet? Needless to say, it’s not enough, whether in the IRS case or the State Department, to allow members of a discredited administration probe themselves.
    Let’s get a select committee or prosecutor with no ties to the administration to look into the latest — and in fact all — of the questions. (Say, what happened to the probe about leaked national security secrets?)


    If it really is the career service people in the IRS and elsewhere, it’s odd because we haven’t had an outbreak of such problems since the Nixon era. And if so then hiring throughout government has been poisoned by left-wing politics. It is time to get the facts and let the chips fall where they may. I repeat: Stop blaming the little people, whether in Benghazi, Foggy Bottom or Ohio.


    UPDATE (3:45 p.m.): House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced, “The IRS cannot target or intimidate any individual or organization based on their political beliefs. The House will investigate this matter.”
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Tea Party Rejects IRS Apology, Republicans Vow Investigation

    Tea party activists Bob Mason, left and John Oltesvig, both of North Carolina, wear colonial costumes with tri-corner hats as they participate in the rally at the Capitol, April 6, 2012. (Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images)







    By ABBY PHILLIP
    May 10, 2013



    Conservative groups have rejected an Internal Revenue Service apology for unjustifiably scrutinizing tax-exempt conservative groups during the 2012 election cycle. The IRS apology has seemingly validated conservatives' fears of politically motivated regulation.


    House Republican leaders, meanwhile, have vowed to investigate.


    Lois Lerner, the director the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations, said that organizations had been given additional scrutiny if their applications included the words "Tea Party" or "patriot." The practice originated with "low-level" employees in Cincinnati, according to an Associated Press report.


    In a press conference on Friday, Lerner called the actions of these employees "absolutely inappropriate."


    "They didn't do it because of any political bias," Lerner said, adding that singling out groups with specific names was an ill-thought-out organizational "shortcut."


    "It was an error in judgment and it wasn't appropriate but that's what they did," she said.


    "We've now corrected these issues, and we don't expect that any of these will be repeated going forward."


    Despite the apology, conservative groups are now seizing on the news, which they say proves their long-standing complaints of mistreatment by the IRS.


    "President Obama must also apologize for his administration ignoring repeated complaints by these broad grassroots organizations of harassment by the IRS in 2012, and make concrete and transparent steps today to ensure this never happens again," said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots.


    Tea Party Express founder Sal Russo told ABC News that his group, formed as a PAC, never heard from the IRS but did hear from smaller Tea Party groups that complained of government scrutiny.


    "On our bus tours the local Tea Party groups were all screaming about it. It was so pronounced around the country that it was obvious that the tea party groups were being targeted. Not unlike any bureaucracy, the first reaction is to deny everything even when they don't know the facts," Russo told ABC News, saying he is "glad they finally acknowledged what was obvious to everyone else."


    "We appreciate that the IRS acknowledged and apologized, but the real question is, how do we make sure that this never happens again? All Americans, regardless of their philosophical beliefs, should be treated equally under the laws of the land," said Jackie Bodnar, spokeswoman for the tax-exempt tea-party group FreedomWorks.


    Republican members of Congress were also quick to register their displeasure, and House leaders have promised to investigate.


    House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who has dogged the Obama administration from his position on the House's top investigative panel, promised to delve into the matter.


    "The fact that Americans were targeted by the IRS because of their political beliefs is unconscionable. The committee will aggressively follow up on the IG report and hold responsible officials accountable for this political retaliation," Issa said in a statement.


    House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor echoed his promise.


    "The IRS cannot target or intimidate any individual or organization based on their political beliefs. The House will investigate this matter," Cantor said.


    "Today, we are left with serious questions: Who is ultimately responsible for this travesty? What actions will the Obama administration take to hold them accountable? And have other federal agencies used government powers to attack Americans for partisan reasons?" Boehner said in a statement. "House Republicans have made oversight of federal agencies a top priority on behalf of the American people, and I applaud the work that members such as Charles Boustany, Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan have done to bring this issue to light."


    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., publicly asked President Obama to review his entire administration for politicization.


    "Today, I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views," McConnell said in a statement.


    Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff at the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office, called the IRS story "constitutionally troubling" and suggested that "there must be clear checks in place to prevent this from ever happening again." Even former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett tweeted: "IRS seems to be claiming this was stupidity, not malice. Maybe so. But we shouldn't take their word for it and neither should Congress."


    At his daily press briefing on Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called the IRS's actions "inappropriate."


    "We've certainly seen those reports. My understanding is this matter is under investigation by the IG [inspector general] at the IRS," Carney said, when asked if the administration would oblige McConnell's request for an administration-wide review.


    "The IRS, as you know, is an independent enforcement agency, with only two political appointees. The fact of the matter is what we know about this is of concern, and we certainly find the actions taken as reported to be inappropriate, and we would fully expect the investigation to be thorough and for corrections to be made," Carney said.
    Carney pointed out that the IRS commissioner in 2012, Douglas Shulman, was appointed by President George W. Bush. Asked when the White House became aware of the extra reviews, Carney referred questions to the IRS.


    "I learned about it today," Carney said.


    In a statement, the IRS admitted that "mistakes were made," but it said that the errors were not due to "any political or partisan rationale."


    "We fixed the situation last year and have made significant progress in moving the centralized cases through our system," the IRS said. "It is important to recognize that all centralized applications received the same, even-handed treatment, and the majority of cases centralized were not based on a specific name."


    The IRS said that about 75 applications for tax-exempt status that contained the words "Tea Party" or "patriot" were added to a pool of 225 other applications that were singled out for additional scrutiny. So far, none of those applications have been rejected, although some have been withdrawn.


    The news came after an election cycle punctuated by claims by liberal and watchdog groups that conservative tax-exempt organizations were unduly influencing political elections, and in some cases, violating their tax-exempt status.


    Groups with a 501(c)4 tax status are prohibited from using more than half of their resources for electioneering activities.


    "The revelations revealed today that the IRS was targeting conservative groups during the 2012 elections is shocking," said David Bossie, president of Citizen's United, the 501(c)4 organization that touched off much of the recent controversy over these groups' role in political elections.


    "The politicization of the IRS cannot be tolerated by the American people. To single out groups because they offer a point of view that is different from the Obama administration harkens back to the dark days of the Nixon administration."


    Some liberal and watchdog groups believed that the IRS wasn't doing enough to review groups that they believed might be flouting their 501(c)4 tax-exempt status in the 2012 election.


    "That's the most interesting thing about this: They were actually doing it," said Kenneth Gross, a campaign finance law expert and former counsel of the Federal Election Commission. "Now that they have done it, to some degree, it looks like they stepped on a pile off dog doo."


    The effect of this revelation could be chilling for future regulation of politically active, tax-exempt groups.


    "There are legitimate questions to be asked about political groups that are hiding behind a 501(c)4 status," said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign in a statement. "It's unfortunate a few bad apples at the IRS will make it harder for those questions to be asked without claims of bias."


    Particularly after the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling in 2010 created "super PACs," which opened the door for these political action committees to receive funds from affiliated tax-exempt groups that don't have to disclose their donors, the arrangement has been the subject of ridicule. Comedian Stephen Colbert in one instance accused American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two organizations affiliated with Republican operative Karl Rove, of "money laundering."
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Shouldn’t Obama Be Impeached For This?

    By CHQ Staff | 5/13/13


    It is a well-established principle of American law and our society that the government may not single-out citizens for special scrutiny or discrimination because of their race, religion, or political views -- and in some jurisdictions their sex, sexual orientation or “gender identity.”

    If the United States government singled-out law-abiding citizens going about their lawful business because they were of a certain race, and engaged in oppressive and illegal conduct against them, there would be a concerted effort to remove that government from power – by impeaching the officials responsible if necessary.

    Why then are there no calls for the impeachment of President Obama and those responsible for the despicable and illegal, actions of the Internal Revenue Service against members of the Tea Party, “patriot” organizations and Jewish groups?

    One might have explained away the lack of establishment media interest in the chilling details of the original revelations that the IRS was targeting the Tea Party and patriot organizations as the usual media double standard relating to all things Tea Party.

    Thus, the IRS issuing an “apology” to the Tea Party and the story line that some low-level government employees had been counseled and received some unspecified discipline could be deemed sufficient according to the media’s “no blood, no foul” standard for dismissing complaints of discrimination against those it doesn’t like.

    But the revelations that similar, indeed even more abusive, tactics were used against Jewish religious groups takes the IRS conduct, in a remarkably apropos phrase, beyond the Pale.

    According to reporting by National Review Online and others, an IRS agent told a representative that the passionately pro-Israel group Z STREET and the applications of some Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.” . . .

    Further, as Kevin Williamson reported in NRO, “…at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel.

    Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required the Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel”.”

    That some low-level government employees might abuse their power comes as no surprise to any American who has to deal with their local zoning, building inspection or business licensing officials.

    That there’s a "special unit” in the D.C. office of the IRS to determine whether an organization’s activities “contradict the Administration’s public policies” is not just a shock, but a truly revolution-inspiring disclosure.

    Such a disclosure also begs the question, “where does it end?”

    Did those who oppose Obamacare, the Keystone pipline, Obama’s green energy initiatives and the multi-billion dollar stimulus bill also get special scrutiny because they “contradict the Administration’s public policies?"

    If those who "contradict the Administration’s public policies" got special scrutiny, did those who support the Administration's public policies get special favoritism?

    Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight, has said there will be a congressional investigation that will probe who knew what and when, and that’s a necessary first step.

    What we want to know is -- what happens after that?

    President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and various other members of the Obama administration have raised stonewalling to an art form. If Issa’s investigation shows that knowledge or direction of this Orwellian activity on the part of the IRS reached the White House, President Obama must answer for it -- and impeachment is the correct means of making him do so.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    MSNBC skewers Obama over IRS scandal

    By Ben Wolfgang - The Washington Times

    May 13, 2013, 08:01AM






    It’s little surprise to see Republicans bashing the Obama administration over reports that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups during the 2012 election season.


    But even the president’s most vocal supporters — the talking heads of liberal cable news channel MSNBC — are unloading on the White House and the Democratic Party as a whole.


    “Look at the reaction of the entire Democratic Party. Of course the Republican Party is jumping on this … beating up the IRS is always good politics. But why aren’t more Democrats jumping on this?” asked MSNBC host and White House correspondent Chuck Todd. “This is outrageous, no matter what political party you are.”


    Former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw also skewered the administration’s response to the scandal, which broke Friday afternoon.


    “There’s only spin for the president to make, which is to come out and say that ‘this is outrageous. I have asked the people responsible for this to be removed from their jobs.’” Mr. Brokaw said on “Morning Joe” on Monday morning.


    Mr. Obama has yet to directly address the matter, though he’s expected to do so Monday.


    The IRS admitted on Friday that some auditors gave extra scrutiny to applications for tax-exempt status from tea party groups and other conservative outfits, including Glenn Beck’s 9/12 Project, according to media reports.


    As the scandal deepens, figures from within the Democratic Party are calling on Mr. Obama to address the situation head on.


    “He’s got to come out and really hammer this, hammer it loud and clear,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, an MSNBC analyst, on “Morning Joe.”


    “Action has to be taken. As strongly as possible, [Mr. Obama has to] get out there and condemn it. … It’s pretty sad,” he added.


    The IRS ordeal comes just as the ongoing scandal over the administration’s handling of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks continues to heat up. Some analysts, however, believe the IRS actions could end up being worse.


    “I think this story has more legs politically in 2014 than Benghazi,” Mr. Todd said.


    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/...#ixzz2TAzjqMYW
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    IRS targeting: senior officials knew of political issues, says report

    Inspector general findings seems to contradict public statements that Tea party and others were flagged for additional scrutiny



    • Associated Press in Washington
    • guardian.co.uk,

    White House spokesman Jay Carney has brushed aside calls for the White House itself to investigate. Photograph: Win Mcnamee/Getty Images



    Senior officials at the US tax agency knew agents were targeting conservative political groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general's report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.


    The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.


    But on June 29, 2011, Lois G Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog's report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with "tea party," ''patriot" or "9/12 project" in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.


    Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups "immediately", the report says.


    "Tea party" and "patriot" are favorite terms of the small-government conservative movement that has emerged in recent years and is highly critical of President Barack Obama. The 9-12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck.


    The revelation that the IRS targeted those groups is becoming a new headache for the Obama administration, which is already confronting a highly polarized, partisan atmosphere in Washington.


    On Saturday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement that Obama is concerned that "a small number" of IRS employees may have fallen short of the high level of integrity expected of public servants.


    "We understand that the matter is currently under review by the inspector general," Carney said. "If the inspector general finds that there were any rules broken or that conduct of government officials did not meet the standards required of them, the president expects that swift and appropriate steps will be taken to address any misconduct."


    The Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week. The AP obtained part of the draft report, which has been shared with congressional aides.


    Among the other revelations, on August 4, 2011, staffers in the IRS' Rulings and Agreements office "held a meeting with chief counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue."


    On January 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, "political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement," the report says.


    While this was happening, several committees in Congress were writing IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to express concern because tea party groups were complaining of IRS harassment.


    In Shulman's responses, he did not acknowledge targeting of tea party groups. At a congressional hearing March 22, 2012, Shulman was adamant in his denials.


    The portion of the draft report reviewed by the AP does not say whether Shulman or anyone else in the Obama administration outside the IRS was informed of the targeting.

    It is standard procedure for agency heads to consult with staff before responding to congressional inquiries, but it is unclear how much information Shulman sought.

    The IRS has not said when Shulman found out that tea party groups were targeted.


    Shulman was appointed by President George W Bush, a Republican. His six-year term ended in November. Obama has yet to nominate a successor. The agency is now run by an acting commissioner.


    The IRS said in a statement Saturday that the agency believes the timeline in the IG's report is correct, and supports what officials said Friday.


    "IRS senior leadership was not aware of this level of specific details at the time of the March 2012 hearing," the statement said. "The timeline does not contradict the commissioner's testimony. While exempt organizations officials knew of the situation earlier, the timeline reflects that IRS senior leadership did not have this level of detail."


    Lerner's position is three levels below the commissioner.


    Several congressional committees have promised investigations, including the Ways and Means Committee, which plans to hold a hearing.


    The group Tea Party Patriots said the revelation was proof that the IRS had lied to Congress and the public when Schulman said there had been no targeting of Tea party groups.


    "We must know how many more lies they have been telling and how high up the chain the cover-up goes," Jenny Beth Martin, the group's national coordinator, said in a statement Saturday.


    "It appears the IRS committed crimes and violated our ability to exercise our First Amendment right to free speech. A simple apology is not sufficient reparation for violating the constitutional rights of United States citizens. Therefore, Tea Party Patriots rejects the apology from the Internal Revenue Service," Martin said.


    On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration expected the inspector general to conduct a thorough investigation, but he brushed aside calls for the White House itself to investigate.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Recharged tea party demands justice in IRS targeting scandal

    8:36 AM, May 13, 2013


    One month earlier, in March 2012, then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional panel: "There's absolutely no targeting."






    (CBSNews.com) - Conservatives are fuming as more damning information surfaces regarding the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of tea party groups for excessive review of their tax-exempt status during the 2012 elections.


    An apology Friday by the IRS conceding the "inappropriate" practice of singling out groups with keywords like "Tea Party," "Patriot" and "9/12 Project" in their names to flag for heightened, typically burdensome, scrutiny is "not sufficient reparation for violating the constitutional rights of United States citizens," said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.


    "The Tea Party Patriots rejects the apology from the Internal Revenue Service," Martin said in a statement. "The IRS lied. They lied before Congress in 2011, and they lied again [in the agency's apology]. We must know how many more lies they have been telling, and how high up the chain the cover-up goes."


    Though the agency insisted Friday no high-level employees were aware of the targeting, a draft which surfaced over the weekend of an inspector general's report due to be released this week revealed that Lois Lerner -- an IRS official in charge of oversight of tax-exempt groups -- knew about it as early as June 2011.


    Lerner allegedly became aware of the targeting during a meeting two summers ago -- 10 months before penning an April 2012 letter to House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., assuring him the rigorous scrutiny some conservative groups had complained about was "in the ordinary course of the application process" for nonprofit groups seeking tax exemption.


    One month earlier, in March 2012, then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional panel: "There's absolutely no targeting."


    House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., announced Friday that he would organize a hearing on the wrongdoing; Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., vowed to get to the bottom of it. Martin said she was "encouraged" by the GOP-controlled chamber's promise to act, and added that the Tea Party Patriots "are currently working with our legal counsel to determine how to regain the tremendous amount of money, time, and other resources that were wasted and lost because of this violation by the IRS."


    Attracting fury from Republicans and Democrats alike, the scandal gives recharged legs to the hands-off government network, which has seen a dip in influence since ushering into the Capitol a wave of freshman purists in 2010. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Iowa, who's largely faded from public view since her splashy but ultimately failed presidential bid, berated the "stunning abuse of power" arising from "political beliefs."


    "The American people deserve answers as to who authorized it -- it is hard to believe this was a 'low-level' decision," she said in a statement. "And as one of the key agencies charged with enforcing Obamacare, it is also reasonable to ask if any healthcare decisions have been based on political affiliation and what assurances we have that this type of intimidation will never happen again."


    Sarah Palin -- the GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee and a darling of the tea party movement, weighed in on Facebook: "Between the Benghazi cover-up and the IRS targeting Obama's political opponents, we see the corruption at the heart of big government. ...I'm sure President Obama is grateful for all the help the IRS gave his reelection campaign, but, still, you have to wonder how the bureaucrats who tried to pull this off can sleep at night."


    And newcomer Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., one of just five senators who consider themselves part of the Tea Party Caucus, decried a "new level" for the "partisan politics of the Obama administration."


    "Targeting private citizens on the basis of their political views is completely unacceptable," he said in a statement. "The White House must not only hold those responsible accountable for their actions, but also assure the American people that these practices are not being employed at other departments and agencies."


    Conservative pundit Glenn Beck, who started the IRS-targeted "9/12 project," rushed to point out that his news outlet, TheBlaze, had waved a red flag on the scandal more than a year ago: A February 14, 2012 article titled, "Is Obama Using the IRS to Silence Opposition Voices?" detailed complaints from conservative groups that the IRS was requesting from them hard copies of social media posts; the name, address and corporate federal ID of its members; and the time, location and content schedule of each event.


    "In February 2012, TheBlaze first reported what the IRS now admits to -- that they unfairly targeted conservative groups including the 9/12 project," Beck said Sunday in a statement. "It is nice to see everyone else playing catch-up and finally asking the same questions that TheBlaze started raising over a year ago."
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    IRS Also Targeted Anti-Govt. Groups, Scads of Others

    Groups concerned with Constitution, taxes, spending, etc.


    By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff


    Posted May 13, 2013 7:25 AM CDT | Updated May 13, 2013 7:59 AM CDT









    (Newser) – The IRS scandal goes beyond the Tea Party: Documents show that over the past two years while evaluating applications for tax-exempt status, officials also zeroed in on groups that criticized the government or educated Americans about the Constitution or the Bill of Rights; as well as groups that were interested in taxes, government spending, or government debt; limiting or expanding the government; improving America; or "social economic reform."


    The documents show how the Cincinnati office frequently redefined the types of groups that should be targeted for increased scrutiny, even after division chief Lois Lerner objected in June 2011, the Washington Post reports. In March 2012, then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman testified before Congress that the IRS was not singling out conservative groups, the Wall Street Journal reports. It wasn't until May 2012 that a neutral policy was adopted, with the IRS agreeing to target any group that was significantly concerned with political campaigns. The documents don't make it clear who the decision-maker was, Reuters reports.
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    LMAO!

    Thank you Mr. Obvious....

    WAPO - IRS wrongdoing could become major issue for Democrats

    “Politicizing the IRS was one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon,” noted Doug Schoen, who handles polling for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “That being said, we are still a very long way from that point.” But, Schoen added: “The allegations are very, very serious and it is simply impossible to believe that it was just Lois Lerner and some low-level employees in Cincinnati who came up with this scheme to systematically focus on Tea Party and ‘patriot’ groups.”
    Here’s a quick summary of what we learned this weekend:

    ...

    Washington Post
    5/13/13

    Posted May 13, 2013 - 6:58 am
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    IRS IG Report: Targeting Conservatives Began In 2010

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    By Jonathan Karl
    @jonkarl
    Follow on Twitter

    May 13, 2013 9:49am
    The targeting of conservatives by the IRS started earlier and was more extensive than the IRS acknowledged last week, according to a draft IRS inspector general report obtained by ABC News.
    As we reported on “Good Morning America” this morning, the IRS began targeting “Tea Party or similar organizations” in March 2010. That was when the Cincinnati-based IRS unit responsible for overseeing the applications for tax exempt status starting using the phrases “Tea Party,” “patriots” and “9/12″ to search for applications warranting greater scrutiny.
    During this first phase, 10 Tea Party cases were identified. By April of 2010, 18 Tea Party organizations were targeted, including three that had already been approved for tax-exempt status.
    By June 2011, the unit had flagged over 100 Tea Party-related applications and the criteria used to scrutinize organizations had grown considerably, flagging not just “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in group names, but also groups that were working on issues like “government debt,” “taxes” and even organizations making statements that “criticize how the country is being run.”
    The report, done by the Inspector General for the IRS, also shows that senior IRS officials in Washington was aware of what was going on as early as August 4, 2011 when, according to the report, the IRS chief counsel held a meeting with the IRS’s Rulings and Agreements unit “so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.”
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    Senator: Obama should 'condemn' IRS targeting




    WASHINGTON — Republicans say the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative political groups was ``chilling'', and at least one Republican senator called on President Barack Obama to ``personally condemn'' the actions.


    The IRS, an independent agency in the Treasury Department, has already apologized for scrutinizing the tax-exempt status of groups with conservative titles such as ``Tea Party'' or ``Patriot'' in their names. While White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday it was wrong, GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Sunday she was disappointed that Obama ``hasn't personally condemned this.''


    The president, Collins said, ``needs to make crystal clear that this is totally unacceptable.'' Collins and other Republicans challenged the tax agency's claim that the practice was initiated by low-level workers.


    ``I just don't buy that this was a couple of rogue IRS employees,'' said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. ``After all, groups with `progressive' in their names were not targeted similarly.''


    If it were just a small number of employees, she said, ``then you would think that the high-level IRS supervisors would have rushed to make this public, fired the employees involved, apologized to the American people and informed Congress. None of that happened in a timely way.''


    The IRS said Friday that it was sorry for what it called the ``inappropriate'' targeting of the conservative groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.
    But according to a draft of a watchdog's report obtained Saturday by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner, senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011.


    The Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week.


    Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, said last week that the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias.


    But on June 29, 2011, Lerner learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog's report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with ``Tea Party,'' `'Patriot'' or ``9/12 Project'' in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.


    The 9/12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck.


    Congressional Republicans already are conducting several investigations and asked for more.


    ``This mea culpa is not an honest one,'' said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.


    After the Associated Press report, Carney said that if the inspector general ``finds that there were any rules broken or that conduct of government officials did not meet the standards required of them, the president expects that swift and appropriate steps will be taken to address any misconduct.''


    Collins said the revelations about the nation's tax agency only contribute to ``the profound distrust that the American people have in government. It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review.''
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    Default Re: IRS unfairly targeting Conservatives (Tea Party groups)

    IRS kept shifting targets on tax-exempt groups
    By Kevin Drawbaugh and Kim Dixon, Reuters
    Updated: 05/13/2013 09:55:56 AM EDT


    A Tea Party activist dressed in Revolution-era garb speaks with an attendee at the Conservative
    Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 15, 2013.
    (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When tax agents started singling out non-profit groups for extra scrutiny in 2010, they looked at first only for key words such as 'Tea Party,' but later they focused on criticisms by groups of "how the country is being run," according to investigative findings reviewed by Reuters on Sunday.

    Over two years, IRS field office agents repeatedly changed their criteria while sifting through thousands of applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status to select ones for possible closer examination, the findings showed.

    At one point, the agents chose to screen applications from groups focused on making "America a better place to live."

    Exactly who at the IRS made the decisions to start applying extra scrutiny was not clear from the findings, which were contained in portions of an investigative report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

    Expected to be made public this week, the report was obtained in part by Reuters over the weekend as a full-blown scandal involving the IRS scrutiny widened, embarrassing the agency and distracting the Obama administration.

    In one part of the report, TIGTA officials observed that the application screening effort showed "confusion about how to process the applications, delays in the processing of the applications, and a lack of management oversight and guidance."

    After brewing for months, the IRS effort exploded into wider view on Friday when Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, apologized for what she called the "inappropriate" targeting of conservative groups for closer scrutiny, something the agency had long denied.

    At a legal conference in Washington, while taking questions from the audience, Lerner said the agency was sorry.

    She said the screening practice was confined to an IRS office in Cincinnati; that it was "absolutely not" influenced by the Obama administration; and that none of the targeted groups was denied tax-free status.

    It is clear from the TIGTA findings that Lerner was informed in June 2011 that the extra scrutiny was occurring. Key words in the names of groups - including 'Tea Party,' "Patriot' and '9/12' - were being used to choose applications, TIGTA found.

    "Issues" criteria were also used, TIGTA found. Scrutiny was being given to references to "Government spending, Government debt, or taxes; Education of the public via advocacy/lobbying to 'make America a better place to live;' and Statements in the case file (that) criticize how the country is being run."

    Under these early criteria, more than 100 tax-exempt applications had been identified, according to TIGTA.

    Briefed on the practice, Lerner ordered changes.

    CONSTANTLY SHIFTING CRITERIA

    By July 2011, the IRS was no longer targeting just groups with certain key words in their names. Rather, the screening criteria had changed to "organizations involved with political, lobbying, or advocacy."

    But then it changed again in January 2012 to cover "political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the constitution and bill of rights, social economic reform/movement," according to the findings contained in a Treasury Department watchdog report.

    In March 2012, after Tea Party groups complained about delays in processing of their applications, then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman was called to testify by a congressional committee. He denied that the IRS was targeting tax-exempt groups based on their politics.

    The IRS said on Saturday that senior IRS executives were not aware of the screening process. The documents reviewed by Reuters do not show that Shulman had any role.

    In May 2012, the criteria for scrutiny were revised again to cover a variety of tax-exempt groups "with indicators of significant amounts of political campaign intervention (raising questions as to exempt purpose and/or excess private benefit)," according to a TIGTA timeline included in the findings.

    THOUSANDS OF APPLICATIONS

    Each year the IRS reviews as many as 60,000 applications from groups ranging from charities to labor unions that want to be classified as tax-exempt. "Social welfare" groups dedicated to the general good can be tax-exempt under tax law 501(c)4.

    These groups do not have to disclose the identities of their donors and they can spend money on advertising for general issues, but they may not endorse specific candidates or parties.

    The U.S. Supreme Court's January 2010 "Citizens United" ruling unleashed a torrent of new political spending and 501(c)4 groups became a popular conduit for some of it, on both ends of the political spectrum, but especially for conservatives.

    The number of applications sent to the IRS by groups seeking 501(c)4 status rose to 3,400 in 2012 from 1,500 in 2010. As money poured into 501(c)4 groups, campaign finance activists began to raise questions and demanded a crackdown by the IRS.
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