Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The American Spectator : Democrats' BOLO Bonanza

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Levin and the rest of the Ways and Means Democrats would love to have you believe that this information relieves the IRS of any wrongdoing, but there are too many things that just don't add up. Before we let Lois Lerner and company off the hook, here are a few questions that IRS officials—and congressional Democrats—should have to answer.

1. Why are we getting these lists now, over a month after Lois Lerner admitted to the targeting in a planted question at an American Bar Association panel on May 10? The IRS had every motivation to make these lists available as soon as possible to prevent any accusation of political bias. Why would Lerner or anyone else choose not to immediately release these lists?

2. Why did Lois Lerner plead the Fifth? If Lerner did nothing wrong, as she has claimed, what motivation did she have to refuse to testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee? It seems like she should have been anxious to clear her name, rather than cowering from scrutiny.

3. Where are the progressives telling their stories? A few liberals claimed their tax-exempt groups were targeted under George W. Bush, but the progressive BOLO lists supposedly started in August 2010, long after Bush left office. Since this story broke in May, countless conservatives have told stories of their groups being targeted by the IRS and what the unfair scrutiny cost them. The progressive groups seem to be MIA on this one.

4. Why did conservative groups face so much unfair scrutiny, while there is no evidence that liberal groups received any? As the Ways and Means Republicans pointed out in an email yesterday, being separated through a BOLO list is not the same as being targeted:

     Tea Party   Progressives 
On a BOLO  Yes  Yes
Had donors threatened  Yes  No evidence
Had confidential information leaked  Yes  No evidence
Sent inappropriate and intrusive questions  Yes  No evidence
Had applications delayed for over 2 years and counting  Yes  No evidence
Were targeted by the IRS, according to TIGTA  Yes

 No evidence

Table courtesy of the House Ways and Means Committee Republican Press Office.

5. If both conservative and liberal groups were on BOLO lists, why were conservative applications put on indefinite hold while liberal groups received 501(c)(4) status relatively easily? A USA Today investigation found that no conservative group was approved for 501(c)(4) status for 28 months starting in March 2010, but applications for liberal groups were waved through.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Despite New Revelations, IRS Scandal is Still a Scandal

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TaxProf Blog: The IRS Scandal, Day 47

Eliana Johnson: The IRS's Best Friend in Congress -

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"The testimony offered by other Cincinnati IRS employees—which I have reviewed in full, un-redacted form—contradicts Mr. Cummings's claims and those of Obama administration officials, such as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who has pointed the finger at "line employees" in Cincinnati. The IRS interviews suggest that the agency's officials in Washington closely controlled the review of tea-party cases.

Consider Gary Muthert, the Cincinnati IRS screener who told investigators that he began singling out tea-party applications at the request of Mr. Shafer, who told him "Washington, D.C., wanted some cases."

And there is Elizabeth Hofacre, the Cincinnati IRS agent who for several months in 2010 was charged with handling all tea-party applications. She told the committee that she understood the "lookout list" used to flag the applications of tea-party groups was also intended to flag those of Republican and conservative groups. When the applications of liberal groups came in, she sent them along for general processing."

A 'Far Broader' BOLO List? | National Review Online

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A November 2010 version of the list obtained by National Review Online, however, suggests that while the list did contain the word "progressive," screeners were instructed to treat progressive groups differently from tea-party groups. Whereas they were merely alerted that a designation of 501(c)(3) status "may not be appropriate" for progressive groups — 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from conducting any political activity — they were told to send applications from tea-party groups off to IRS higher-ups for further scrutiny. 

That means the applications of progressive organizations could be approved by line agents on the spot, while those of tea-party groups could not. Furthermore, the November 2010 list noted that tea-party cases were "currently being coordinated with EOT" — Exempt Organizations Technical, a group of tax lawyers in Washington, D.C. Those of progressive organizations were not.

To Werfel's account, add the testimony of Holly Paz. The highest-ranking official interviewed by the House Oversight Committee to date, Paz did not contend that the lookout list was politically inclusive. Rather, she told committee investigators that the use of the term "tea party" to flag applications was politically neutral.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Five IRS Scandal Myths | National Review Online

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1. It was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati

This claim has crumbled in recent weeks.


But the notion that the targeting was directed by low-level employees Cincinnati has been refuted on multiple fronts. A number of conservative groups that asked about the status of their applications, for example, were told that the Cincinnati office was awaiting guidance from officials in Washington, D.C.

Employees in the Cincinnati office made clear to members of the House Oversight Committee that they received direction from the Exempt Organizations Technical Unit in Washington.

2. The targeting stopped in 2012

Jay Carney told reporters last month that the IRS targeting "stopped in May of 2012." Apparently not. After more than three years, some conservative groups are still awaiting a decision on their applications for non-profit status. Dozens of conservative groups report receiving letters from the IRS in the fall of 2012 — and later. Linchpins of Liberty, a student-mentoring organization in Tennessee, which has been the target of numerous invasive requests from the IRS (it was asked to identify the names of its student participants, for example), received another letter on May 6, 2013, days before news of the scandal broke.

3. Liberal groups were also targeted

One way in which the administration's defenders have sought to downplay the severity of the scandal is claiming that the IRS also singled out liberal political groups for extra scrutiny. That doesn't appear to be the case. As McClatchy reported last week, "virtually no organizations perceived to be liberal or nonpartisan have come forward to say they were unfairly targeted" since the scandal came to light on May 10.

In fact, groups with words like "Progress" or "Progressive" in their names were quickly approved, while tea-party groups saw their applications delayed repeatedly.

4. Absolutely no political motivations

Democrats also insist that, in the words of former White House adviser David Plouffe, the IRS targeting of conservatives "was not a political pursuit." Although the inspectors general's audit found no evidence of political motivation "at this time," there are numerous factors suggesting a systemic liberal bias within the tax-collecting agency.

Douglas Shulman, who was IRS commissioner when most of the targeting occurred, is a Democratic donor, and he  is married to liberal activist with ties to the Occupy Wall Street movement. IRS employees donated twice as much money to President Obama as they did to Mitt Romney in 2012, and nearly 30 times as much to Obama over his 2008 challenger John McCain.

5. The case is 'solved'

Elijah Cummings, ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, seems to think so. "Based upon everything I've seen, the case is solved," he said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union. "If it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on."

Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), certainly disagrees. And so does the Treasury's inspector general, who has emphasized that the findings of his audit are merely preliminary, and that many details are "still to be determined."