House report finds IRS targeted “icky” conservative groups

Tomorrow, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will release its report on the politicization of the IRS, including, of course, its targeting of conservative groups. The Daily Caller obtained an advance copy and has previewed six key finding. Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner also discusses the 210-page report.

The report concludes that “IRS employees allow[ed] politics to seep into their work from February 2010 to May 2012.” Moreover, “even after agency officials learned of misconduct, the response from senior agency officials was to manage the fallout rather than quickly expose and correct the misconduct.”

This has been obvious for some time. However, some of the specifics cited in the report were not known to me.

For example, according the Daily Caller’s summary, “the IRS reached out to outside advisers to help come up with ways to deny tax-exempt status to ‘icky’ organizations.” In April 2013, a Cincinnati-based IRS agent working under Lois Lerner told tax law specialist Hilary Goehausen, “it appears that the org is funneling money to other orgs for political purposes,” but added “I don’t know that I can deny them simply for donating to another 501(c)(4). . . .Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated.”

Goehausen responded:

I think there may be a number of ways to deny them. Let me talk to Sharon [Light] tomorrow about it and get some ideas from her as well. . . .This sounds like a bad org. :/ . . . This org gives me an icky feeling.

Conservative groups clearly gave Lois Lerner and her staff an icky feeling. Stephen Seok, one of her subordinates said:

Normal (c)(4) cases we must develop the concept of social welfare, such as the community newspapers, or the poor, that types. These [Tea Party] organizations mostly concentrate on their activities on the limiting government, limiting government role, or reducing government size, or paying less tax. I think it[‘]s different from the other social welfare organizations which are (c)(4).

Notwithstanding this distinction, Lerner and Holly Paz recognized that there was no legal basis to deny most (c)(4) applications by conservative groups. Paz wrote:

Lois would like to discuss our planned approach for dealing with these cases. We suspect we will have to approve the majority of the c4 applications.

IRS official Don Spellman replied, “That’s an interesting posture.” It’s an interesting posture to find the idea of actually following the law an interesting posture.

What do partisan bureaucrats do when they don’t want to approve applications from “icky” conservative organizations, but understand that no valid basis exists for not approving them? If the partisan bureaucrats are Lois Lerner and company and Barack Obama is president, they delay consideration, ask intrusive questions, demand donor lists, and even scrutinize the prayers offered during meetings.

This, the report apparently finds, is what the IRS did.

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