The IRS has admitted, and apologized for, targeting conservative political groups for audits:
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.
We actually knew about this. Some time ago, we started getting calls and emails from Tea Party groups saying that they were being audited by the IRS, and had learned that other Tea Party groups were likewise in the crosshairs. We had also heard about the IRS asking for donor lists, presumably so that they could audit the donors as well. The IRS says the improper audits occurred during the 2012 campaign, but we had heard about them prior to last summer or fall.
The IRS claims that “the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias.” That last point is risible. Of course it was motivated by political bias. Ms. Lerner says further that “no high level IRS officials knew about the practice.” That, too, seems extremely doubtful. If I knew the IRS was auditing Tea Party groups, how likely is it that no senior agency officials had heard about it?
Congress should investigate this, obviously. By Congress, I mean the House of Representatives. There is zero chance of the Democratic Senate investigating anything related to the Obama administration. (See David Gelernter’s essay posted immediately below.) Come to think of it, this may be one more reason why Obama is so single-mindedly devoted to winning back the House in 2014: the way his administration’s scandals are multiplying, an all-Democrat Congress provides insurance against having to leave office via helicopter.