IRS Scandal: There’s No “There” There
The accusation here is that the IRS targeted conservative political groups because of their conservative politics. The only way to answer that question is to compare how different groups with different politics get treated. The original IRS report talked about how conservative groups were identified in part by keyword search for further scrutiny, without any mention that progressive groups were identified the same way to be looked into further. Scandal?
If there were differences in how different groups were looked into at the IRS, the question is why? Was it a political vendetta? Was there a special group created inside the IRS because of a sudden flood of Tea Party groups looking for nonprofit tax status in 2010? Were these groups aggressive about supporting particular candidates, or moving large donor money around in inappropriate ways? And were groups with “progressive” in the name not always focused on because the word “progressive” describes a lot of things (a type of rummy game and an insurance company off the top of my head to name a just couple). These questions are directly related to the issue of whether there was political bias here, as the Inspector General implied in his letter justifying the report that only looked at how conservative groups were treated. Those questions are central to the issue of bias. Until they have been answered…….
What Do We Know?
We know that the IRS targeted lots of different kinds of groups, not just conservative ones; that the only organizations whose tax-exempt statuses were actually denied were progressive ones; that many of the targeted conservative groups legitimately crossed the line; that the IG’s report was limited to only Tea Party groups at congressional Republicans’ request; and that the White House was in no way involved in the reviews and wasn’t even aware it was happening.
Many people are waiting for the “aha there it is moment” with the supposed IRS “scandal”. There is no “there” there though.