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Thread: IRS Apologizes for Targeting Conservative Groups

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    That's Wacist! Mistwell's Avatar
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    IRS Apologizes for Targeting Conservative Groups

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    So....that happened...
    [h=IRS Apologizes for Targeting Conservative Groups]1[/h] [h=By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]6[/h] [h=Published: May 10, 2013 at 1:23 PM ET]6[/h]WASHINGTON (AP) 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.


    Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice.


    Agency officials found out about the practice last year and moved to correct it, the IRS said in a statement. The statement did not specify when officials found out.


    About 75 groups were inappropriately targeted. None had their tax-exempt status revoked, Lerner said.
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called on the White House to investigate.


    "Today's acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year's national election is not enough," McConnell said. "I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not under way at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views."


    Many conservative groups complained during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS. They accused the agency of frustrating their attempts to become tax exempt by sending them lengthy, intrusive questionnaires.
    The forms, which the groups made available at the time, sought information about group members' political activities, including details of their postings on social networking websites and about family members.
    Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities but it cannot be their primary activity.


    IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that the IRS was not targeting groups based on their political views.


    "There's absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people" who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman told a House Ways and Means subcommittee.


    Shulman was appointed by President George W. Bush. His 6-year term ended in November. President Barack Obama has yet to nominate a successor. The agency is now being run by acting Commissioner Steven Miller.


    "The Ways and Means Committee has persistently pushed the IRS to explain why it appeared to be unfairly targeting some political groups over others a charge they repeatedly denied," said Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee.


    "The IRS's 'too little too late' response is unacceptable, and I will continue to work to ensure there are protections in place so no American, regardless of political affiliation, has their right to free speech threatened by the IRS," Boustany said.


    Tea Party groups were livid on Friday.


    "I don't think there's any question we were unfairly targeted," said Tom Zawistowski, who until recently was president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, an alliance of tea party groups in the state.


    Zawistowski's group was among many conservative organizations that battled the IRS over what they saw as its discriminatory treatment of their effort to gain non-profit status. The group first applied for non-profit status in June 2009, and it was finally granted on Dec. 7, 2012, he said one month after Election Day.

    Shulman was appointed by President George W. Bush. His 6-year term ended in November. President Barack Obama has yet to nominate a successor. The agency is now being run by acting Commissioner Steven Miller.


    Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee, requested a trove of documents from the IRS on Friday, including all communications containing the words "tea party" and "patriot."
    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have also promised investigations.


    There has been a surge of politically active groups claiming tax-exempt status in recent elections conservative and liberal. Among the highest profile are Republican Karl Rove's group, Crossroads GPS, and the liberal Moveon.org.
    These groups claim tax-exempt status under section 501 (c) (4) of the federal tax code, which is for social welfare groups. Unlike other charitable groups, these organizations are allowed to participate in political activities but their primary activity must be social welfare.


    That determination is up to the IRS.


    Lerner said the number of groups filing for this tax-exempt status more than doubled from 2010 to 2012, to more than 3,400. To handle the influx, the IRS centralized its review of these applications in an office in Cincinnati.
    Lerner said this was done to develop expertise among staffers and consistency in their reviews. As part of the review, staffers look for signs that groups are participating in political activity. If so, IRS agents take a closer look to make sure that politics isn't the group's primary activity.


    As part of this process, agents in Cincinnati came up with a list of things to look for in an application. As part of the list, they included the words, "tea party" and "patriot," Lerner said.


    "It's the line people that did it without talking to managers," Lerner. "They're IRS workers, they're revenue agents."
    In all, about 300 groups were singled out for additional review, Lerner said. Of those, about a quarter were singled out because they had "tea party" or "patriot" somewhere in their applications.


    The IRS statement said that once applications were chosen for review, they all "received the same, even-handed treatment."


    Lerner said 150 of the cases have been closed and no group had its tax-exempt status revoked, though some withdrew their applications.


    "Mistakes were made initially, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan rationale," the IRS said in a statement. "We fixed the situation last year and have made significant progress in moving the centralized cases through our system."


    "I don't think there's any question we were unfairly targeted," said Tom Zawistowski, who until recently was president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, an alliance of tea party groups in the state.


    Zawistowski's group was among many conservative organizations that battled the IRS over what they saw as discriminatory treatment. The group first applied for nonprofit status in June 2009, and it was finally granted on Dec. 7, 2012, he said one month after Election Day.


    "It is suspicious that the activity of these 'low-level workers' was unknown to IRS leadership at the time it occurred," said Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, which describes itself as the nation's largest tea party organization. "President Obama must also apologize for his administration ignoring repeated complaints by these broad grass-roots organizations of harassment by the IRS in 2012, and make concrete and transparent steps today to ensure this never happens again."
    ___
    Associated Press writers Alan Fram in Washington and Steve Peoples in Boston contributed to this report.
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    Friendly Coffee Kzach's Avatar
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    And of course the conservatives use it as ammunition against Obama. The divide in America is so deep that if a fly pisses in the wind over Ecuador during a moonlit night on the sea-shore while monkey farts in the forest, the Republicans will accuse the Democrats of destroying their nation and infringing on their rights while the Democrats will scream bloody murder because the Republicans are evil hate-mongering racist gun-toting Nazi's that hate the American people.

    Why can't everyone just get along?
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    That's Wacist! Mistwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kzach View Post
    And of course the conservatives use it as ammunition against Obama. The divide in America is so deep that if a fly pisses in the wind over Ecuador during a moonlit night on the sea-shore while monkey farts in the forest, the Republicans will accuse the Democrats of destroying their nation and infringing on their rights while the Democrats will scream bloody murder because the Republicans are evil hate-mongering racist gun-toting Nazi's that hate the American people.

    Why can't everyone just get along?
    This is obviously not at the behest of the Administration. It happened on the local level, and on a national level they're doing the right thing and apologizing.

    Still, I can understand that people in those groups are mighty pissed off. And since the IRS is very national-focused in terms of their public front, it's no wonder they get tarred with this on a national level by the people harmed by this.
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    Friendly Coffee Kzach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
    This is obviously not at the behest of the Administration. It happened on the local level, and on a national level they're doing the right thing and apologizing.
    Yeah, that's what I meant by my comments. Instead of looking at it as a minor screw-up it's used as some sort of conspiracy. I highly doubt Obama said to the IRS higher-ups, "Make their lives living hells!" In fact, I highly doubt it was even anything more than a coincidence that some lowbies were implementing certain templates that flagged a bunch of the same peripherally connected political groups. It's not like there was an inter-office network of low-level employees getting together at night in the basements of the IRS offices around the world and rubbing their hands together as they gleefully pronounced how they would enact their plans for blue-donkey domination of the Americas.

    What's worse is that what real harm was done? So what if they had to go through some red-tape? Storm in a teacup that's being turned into a political football. Which is why it bothers me. It seems in politics around the world that ideologies have gone out the window and that parties vie for power solely on the basis of gaining power, not for the benefit of the people or the nation. And so they make up reasons to and use any excuse to target the opposition.

    This is why nothing ever gets done in government. One side says yes, the other says no... just because they can.
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    %0 correct Scarbonac's Avatar
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    They should apologize for not extirpating conservative groups.

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    That's Wacist! Mistwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kzach View Post
    I highly doubt it was even anything more than a coincidence
    No, it was intentional. You don't need to doubt it, they said it was intentional. There's nothing at all in this about it being accidental, they admit it was inappropriate actions by some agents. They asked questions which the IRS is specifically barred from asking - no template would include those questions, as they are basic level no-nos. The Ways and Means committee is now investigating and demanding copies of all communications regarding this matter. I would not at all be surprised if some very low level agents went to prison over this.

    Also, they targeted Jewish groups.

    Also, the IRS knew about the targeting of tea-party groups as early as 2011.
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    That's Wacist! Mistwell's Avatar
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    On the idea this was a template, WSJ said this today:

    "From February through August 2010, no official criteria [for the heightened review] existed, but specialists had been asked to be on the lookout for Tea Party applications, and the IRS Determinations Unit had begun searching its database for applications with 'Tea Party,' 'Patriots,' or '9/12' in the organization's name as well as other 'political sounding' names," according to the detailed Treasury inspector general findings.:
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    That's Wacist! Mistwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scarbonac View Post
    They should apologize for not extirpating conservative groups.
    Ah fascism. "Free to be you and me, provided you think just like me."
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    %0 correct Scarbonac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
    Ah fascism. "Free to be you and me, provided you think just like me."
    You are an enormous silly.
    "1 out of 3 Trump supporters is as stupid as the other 2"

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    let them eat arugula! Vigilance's Avatar
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    Basically, there had been a flood of political groups asking for tax exempt status because they were promoting "social welfare".

    Sounds like something the IRS *should* look into- and it looks like it wasn't just conservatives, just that more of them were crawling out of the woodwork lately than, say Jewish groups.

    Is it ok? I dunno. The IRS doesn't seem to think so, so I suppose not. To my layman's eye, a bunch of PACs masquerading as social welfare awareness groups seems super sleazy. *shrug*

    Of course, I fully expect Republicans to run around like their hair's on fire, because that's what they do lately.

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    toxic Xyxox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vigilance View Post
    Basically, there had been a flood of political groups asking for tax exempt status because they were promoting "social welfare".

    Sounds like something the IRS *should* look into- and it looks like it wasn't just conservatives, just that more of them were crawling out of the woodwork lately than, say Jewish groups.

    Is it ok? I dunno. The IRS doesn't seem to think so, so I suppose not. To my layman's eye, a bunch of PACs masquerading as social welfare awareness groups seems super sleazy. *shrug*

    Of course, I fully expect Republicans to run around like their hair's on fire, because that's what they do lately.
    Heightened scrutiny for all of the new "social welfare" PACs was justified. It needed to be applied across the board and it needed to follow IRS protocols 100% to the letter. Neither happened in this case and those low level IRS agents who failed in their duties need to lose their jobs and, in some cases, need to face prosecution.
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    toxic Xyxox's Avatar
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    Things that make you go "Hmmmmmmmmmm"...

    Douglas H. Shulman (born 1967) was the U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue. His nomination was confirmed by the full U.S. Senate on March 14, 2008 and he was sworn in on March 24, 2008. He formerly served as vice chairman of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) (successor to NASD) and sat on the board at the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC).

    Shulman came to NASD in 2000. He directed NASD's efforts to restructure itself as solely a regulator and spin-off its market subsidiaries. He led the negotiations that resulted in the sale of both the NASDAQ Stock Market and the American Stock Exchange. He also oversaw NASD's efforts to become active in the fixed income markets by launching the Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine (TRACE), NASD's real-time corporate bond market regulatory and information system. Another main area of focus was heading the successful effort by NASD to modernize its technology systems.

    Before joining NASD, Shulman co-founded and served as Executive Vice President of FoundryOne, Inc., a company focused on building and spinning off technology-focused startups within major corporations. Previously, Shulman was Vice President of Darby Overseas Investments, Ltd. and served as a senior policy advisor and as Chief of Staff for the National Commission on Restructuring the Internal Revenue Service.[4] Shulman began his career as a consultant at A.T. Kearney in New York City.

    Shulman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Williams College, a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a Juris Doctor degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center. He graduated from Oakwood High School in 1985. His parents, Jeff and Celia Shulman, live in Oakwood, Ohio (in the Greater Dayton Area).

    On November 11, 2012, Shulman finished his term as Commissioner.
    Wikipedia Link

    So nominated by Bush and left right after the election.

    Hmmmmmmmmm....

    Looking more and more like this was low level IRS agents overstepping bounds.
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  • #13
    Meanwhile the Bush era left a legacy of the FBI and local police organizations applying crazy focus to "left" wing groups and protestors/activists.

    Ultimately the more you dig the more you're going to find this kind of thing going on against all parts of the political spectrum - and it all lands squarely on the culture of fear that you guys still haven't managed to shake off.
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    toxic Xyxox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PWD View Post
    Meanwhile the Bush era left a legacy of the FBI and local police organizations applying crazy focus to "left" wing groups and protestors/activists.

    Ultimately the more you dig the more you're going to find this kind of thing going on against all parts of the political spectrum - and it all lands squarely on the culture of fear that you guys still haven't managed to shake off.
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  • #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Farside View Post
    I had a file opened on me during the Reagan administration, for belonging to the Midsouth Peace and Justice Coalition, which organized speakers on a university campus.

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