The Latest on the IRS Scandal

The Treasury Department Inspector General’s report on the IRS’s discriminatory treatment of applicants for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) status has been released; you can read it here. In general, the report doesn’t add much to what has already been reported about its contents. This graphic shows the criteria that were being used to identify “potential political cases” as of June 2011:

The report says, as has been reported, that the IRS asked numerous applicants for information about their donors:

The report doesn’t say what, if anything, the IRS did with donor information, but it is hard to see what purpose the request could have other than to allow harassment of donors to conservative groups, as, for example, through audits.

The most significant new development today came not from the report, the contents of which were already pretty well known, but rather from the revelation that IRS personnel improperly shared pending applications submitted by conservative groups with a left-wing media organization, Pro Publica:

The progressive-leaning investigative journalism group ProPublica says the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office that targeted and harassed conservative tax-exempt groups during the 2012 election cycle gave the progressive group nine confidential applications of conservative groups whose tax-exempt status was pending. …

ProPublica says the documents the IRS gave them were “not supposed to be made public.”

That didn’t stop Pro Publica from publicizing them, of course, in articles like this one: “Karl Rove’s Dark Money Group Promised IRS It Would Spend ‘Limited’ Money on Elections.” While the IG’s report goes rather easy on the IRS in terms of assessing motive, the improper distribution of pending applications to a left-wing ally makes it clear that IRS personnel were trying to help the Democratic Party.


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