IRS Chief Confirms Targeting of Tea Party Groups

Do recent reports and releases show that “progressive” groups received the same level of scrutiny as “Tea Party” and other conservative groups? No. CNN reports:

The acting head of the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday that evidence so far shows only conservative groups underwent extra scrutiny cited by an inspector general’s disclosure of the agency’s targeting of applications for tax exempt status. . . .

IRS screeners used conservative-themed criteria such as “tea party” on “Be on the Lookout” or BOLO lists to determine if groups underwent further review for political activity that would make them ineligible, according to Werfel and the inspector general who first revealed the targeting.

Another category of the BOLO lists also had liberal-themed criteria including “progressives,” but that category didn’t set off the automatic extra scrutiny for political activity faced by conservative groups, according to a letter to the panel this week by Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.

Under tough questioning Thursday at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Werfel acknowledged that the different BOLO categories meant liberal groups avoided the extra scrutiny cited by the inspector general . . .

The Treasury Department’s Inspector General also responded forcefully to claims that the investigation was artificially narrow of may have overlooked IRS targeting of progressive groups during the time period covered by the audit. In a letter to Representative Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, the IG wrote:

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.

Again, there is NO evidence that White House officials had anything to do with the IRS’s slanted screening — but the evidence continues to show that IRS screening was politically slanted, and that IRS employees engaged in unacceptable conduct. The bottom line of this story remains unchanged.

Meanwhile, there is yet more evidence that the IRS is a poor steward of our tax dollars.

UPDATE: I accidentally omitted the word “no” in the penultimate paragraph when this was first posted. To be clear: there is no evidence of White House involvement. This is an IRS scandal, not an Obama scandal.