You heard it here first, when former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich initially believed that the REAL I.R.S. “scandal” had more to do with these politically-motivated non-profits seeking and getting their tax-exempt status, and he’s doubled-down on that today, via social media, and the New York Times, too, has gotten around to digging and concluded that, well, in essence, the Internal Revenue Service was doing their job.
First, from Reich:
The more I understand what actually occurred at the IRS, the more it appears IRS agents were doing their jobs. A close examination of the conservative groups allegedly targeted by the IRS — reported in yesterday’s New York Times — revealed a wide set of election activities that tax experts and former I.R.S. officials say provided a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review. That’s because I.R.S. agents are legally obligated to determine whether a 501(c)(4) group is primarily promoting ‘social welfare,’ — and these groups were disproportionately claiming to be doing so while showing every appearance of spending most of their funds and energies on partisan campaign activities — thereby justifying further review. Why, then, has the Obama administration made scapegoats of IRS officials who were clearly doing their jobs?
Which brings us to the Times piece he mentioned; the headline? “Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics” The first five paragraphs sets the tone.
When CVFC, a conservative veterans’ group in California, applied for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, its biggest expenditure that year was several thousand dollars in radio ads backing a Republican candidate for Congress.
The Wetumpka Tea Party, from Alabama, sponsored training for a get-out-the-vote initiative dedicated to the “defeat of President Barack Obama” while the I.R.S. was weighing its application.
And the head of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, whose application languished with the I.R.S. for more than two years, sent out e-mails to members about Mitt Romney campaign events and organized members to distribute Mr. Romney’s presidential campaign literature.
Representatives of these organizations have cried foul in recent weeks about their treatment by the I.R.S., saying they were among dozens of conservative groups unfairly targeted by the agency, harassed with inappropriate questionnaires and put off for months or years as the agency delayed decisions on their applications.
But a close examination of these groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former I.R.S. officials said would provide a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review.
With an alleged “liberal media” and all that bias that comes from it, why is this STILL not the lead story in this (ahem) “scandal?” Reading further:
I.R.S. agents are obligated to determine whether a 501(c)(4) group is primarily promoting “social welfare.” While such groups are permitted some election involvement, it cannot be an organization’s primary activity. That judgment does not hinge strictly on the proportion of funds a group spends on campaign ads, but on an amorphous mix of facts and circumstances.
The Times dove into it’s examples of I.R.S. rightfully scrutinizing … their first such example – the PROGRESSIVE organization that lost it’s tax-exempt status was apprently a “slam-dunk” case of an organization warranting extra attention from the I.R.S….
Emerge America, which trained women to run for office, was granted 501(c)(4) recognition in 2006, but its status was revoked in 2012. Training people how to run for office is not in itself partisan activity, but the I.R.S. determined that the group trained only Democratic women and was operated to benefit one party.
Now, about those “conservative” organizations…
At least some of the conservative groups that are complaining about I.R.S. treatment were clearly involved in election activities on behalf of Republicans or against Democrats. When CVFC, the veterans’ group, first applied for I.R.S. recognition in early 2010, it stated that it did not plan to spend any money on politics. The group, whose full name in its application was CVFC 501(c)(4), listed an address shared with a political organization called Combat Veterans for Congress PAC. CVFC told the I.R.S. that it planned to e-mail veterans about ways in which they “may engage in government” and provide “social welfare programs to assist combat veterans to get involved in government.”
But later in 2010, as it awaited an I.R.S. ruling, the organization spent close to $8,000 on radio ads backing Michael Crimmins, a Republican and a former Marine, for a House seat in San Diego, according to Federal Election Commission records.
The spending is not detailed in the group’s tax return for 2010, raising questions about whether it properly accounted for the expense to the I.R.S. The group also checked off a box marked “No” when asked if it had engaged in direct or indirect political activities on behalf of a candidate for political office.
The group received two rounds of questions from the I.R.S. in 2012, according to its lawyer, Dan Backer. They included queries about the group’s donors and its exact relationship with Combat Veterans for Congress PAC. The agency also asked about CVFC’s activities, but the group neglected to bring up its radio ads in its follow-up responses.
Mr. Backer called the agency’s questions “sweepingly overbroad” and said the group had answered them appropriately.
Read further; the Wetumpka (Alabama) Tea Party and Ohio Liberty Coalition, as well, waded into some murky political waters … and drew the attention of the I.R.S.
Which brings me to the same question: Why is THIS not the angle to the story the supposed “liberal” media is focusing on, again?