To no one’s surprise, it is already evident that the Obama administration has been lying about the scope of the IRS’s harassment of conservative-leaning non-profits. The Washington Post has obtained documents that show the anti-conservative effort was directed from Washington, D.C., and was not a rogue operation out of the agency’s Cincinnati office, as the administration has claimed:
Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea party-affiliated groups.
IRS employees in Cincinnati also told conservatives seeking the status of “social welfare” groups that a task force in Washington was overseeing their applications, according to interviews with the activists. …
In one instance, … Ron Bell, an IRS employee, informed an attorney representing a conservative group focused on voter fraud that the application was under review in Washington. On several other occasions, IRS officials in D.C. and California sent detailed questionaires to conservative groups asking more than a dozen questions about their voter outreach and other activities, according to the documents.
“For the IRS to say it was some low-level group in Cincinnati is simply false,” said Cleta Mitchell, a partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP who sought to communicate with IRS headquarters about the delay in granting tax-exempt status to True the Vote.
Moreover, details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration on the details of their reviews.
None of this comes as a surprise to conservatives. I had lunch today with two conservative donors who have a great deal more money than I do, both of whom were targeted years ago by the Democrat-controlled IRS. One of my friends had wrapped up an audit, and then, the following year, was identified as a major Republican donor in the New York Times. A week after the Times article appeared, he got a call from the IRS, saying they were going to audit him. He expressed surprise, telling the IRS agent that he had a letter from the agency to the effect that he should be fine for the next three years. Which was greeted with silence; he didn’t hear from the IRS again. My other friend, also a significant Republican donor, was the subject of an audit that seemed patently unreasonable. In the course of it, the IRS agent explained apologetically that he was just following orders from Washington.
This is life in the Age of Obama. If you are a conservative, you are an enemy of the state. Still, you have to wonder about a country where the government harasses those who describe themselves as “patriots.” Can such a country possibly have a future? It seems doubtful.
One more thing: is there any chance that the Washington Post might return to its once-upon-a-time role as an independent check on the abuse of executive power? It’s possible, but I doubt it. The Post’s editorial board has often been very good, but the paper is still dominated by loyal Democrats.