Sunday, June 22, 2014

IRS Documents show that Progressive groups were also targeted

http://www.thewire.com/politics/2014/04/new-documents-show-the-irs-targeted-progressive-and-tea-party-groups-for-extra-scrutiny/361125/

In an apparent contradiction with earlier comments made by House Oversight Committee chair Darrell Issa, new documents obtained through a FOIA request by ThinkProgress show that yes, the IRS targeted both conservative and liberal groups for extra scrutiny. According to ThinkProgress's analysis of the heavily redacted "be on the lookout" lists, the IRS may have targeted a higher number of progressive groups than conservative groups overall. 

Basically, the documents support a long-held counterargument to Issa's theory of the IRS scandal. While Issa has often emphasized that he believes the IRS exclusively targeted Tea Party groups "because of their political beliefs," that argument relies heavily on the fact that the latest version of the so-called BOLO lists primarily contained conservative-sounding groups. In fact, the IRS also kept and circulated historical versions of that list for continued scrutiny, which were filled with progressive keywords, including medical marijuana groups and keywords designed to flag groups descended from the now-defunct ACORN. And just to be clear: everybody agrees that the IRS should not have targeted political groups for extra scrutiny in this way. What's at issue are claims that the IRS uniquely treated conservative and Tea Party groups on the basis of political motivations. 
Arguably, ThinkProgress's report implies, the IRS focused on giving extra scrutiny to groups on the left longer than it did to groups on the right,  Issa's colleagues across the aisle on the Oversight Committee have long noted that Issa has yet to produce evidence supporting his repeated claims that the IRS was acting as part of an anti-GOP political conspiracy. These documents, which ThinkProgress notes were also produced for "investigating congressional committees," are certainly not that evidence.  Here's a list of some of the groups that show up on the full BOLO watch lists (viewable here): 
  • “Progressive” groups, especially those with words like "blue" in the name
  •  “Tea Party" groups
  • Not exclusively educational  “medical marijuana” groups 
  • Groups believed to be "successors to ACORN" 
  • "Open source software" organizations 
  • "Green energy" organizations 
  • "Occupied territory" advocacy organizations
See more at above link
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By the way, this has been known for a long time as this CNN article from 2013 makes clear http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/18/politics/irs-scandal/

Washington (CNN) -- The inspector general who reported Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups said Thursday that he didn't have information until last week that the word "progressive" also was on a list of criteria for extra scrutiny of tax-exempt applications.
At a hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George said the information that liberal groups also were probably targeted only came to him July 9.
His audit, released in May, cited criteria including "tea party" and other conservative-themed words or labels that were used to decide whether applicants for tax-exempt status should come under further review. Since then, an investigation by the panel turned up documents that showed IRS workers also were told to look for the liberal-themed label.