Tag: Targeted

Judge Orders IRS To Turn Over Secret List Of Conservative Groups It Targeted – Accuses Government Of Acting In Bad Faith

Court Rebukes IRS For Tea Party Targeting, Orders Release Of Secret List – Washington Times

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A federal appeals court spanked the IRS Tuesday, saying it has taken laws designed to protect taxpayers from the government and turned them on their head, using them to try to protect the tax agency from the very tea party groups it targeted.

The judges ordered the IRS to quickly turn over the full list of groups it targeted so that a class-action lawsuit, filed by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots, can proceed. The judges also accused the Justice Department lawyers, who are representing the IRS in the case, of acting in bad faith – compounding the initial targeting – by fighting the disclosure.

“The lawyers in the Department of Justice have a long and storied tradition of defending the nation’s interests and enforcing its laws – all of them, not just selective ones – in a manner worthy of the Department’s name. The conduct of the IRS’s attorneys in the district court falls outside that tradition,” Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote in a unanimous opinion for a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. “We expect that the IRS will do better going forward.”

Justice Department officials declined to comment on the judicial drubbing, and the IRS didn’t respond to a request for comment on the unusually strong language Judge Kethledge used.

The case stems from the IRS‘ decision in 2010 to begin subjecting tea party and conservative groups to intrusive scrutiny when they applied for nonprofit status.

An inspector general found several hundred groups were asked inappropriate questions about their members’ activities, their fundraising and their political leanings.

The IRS has since apologized for its behavior, but insisted the targeting was a mistake born of overzealous employees confused by the law rather than a politically motivated attempt to stifle conservatives.

Tea party groups have been trying for years to get a full list of nonprofit groups that were targeted by the IRS, but the IRS had refused, saying that even the names of those who applied or were approved are considered secret taxpayer information. The IRS said section 6103 of the tax code prevented it from releasing that information.

Judge Kethledge, however, said that turned the law on its head.

“Section 6103 was enacted to protect taxpayers from the IRS, not the IRS from taxpayers,” he wrote.

Edward Greim, a lawyer at Graves Garrett who is representing NorCal Patriots, said they should be able to get a better idea of the IRS‘ decision-making once they see the list of groups that was targeted.

“What we’ll be able to see is how, starting in the spring of 2010, with the first one or two groups the IRS targeted, we’ll be able to see that number grow, and we’ll even be able to see at the tail end their possible covering up that conduct,” he said.

He said they suspect the IRS, aware that the inspector general was looking into the tax agency’s behavior, began adding in other groups to try to muddle the perception that only conservatives were being targeted.

Tuesday’s ruling is the second victory this year for NorCal Patriots.

In January U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott certified their case as a class-action lawsuit, signaling that she agreed with NorCal Patriots that the IRS did systematically target hundreds of groups for special scrutiny.

Certifying the class allows any of the more than 200 groups that were subjected to the criteria to join the lawsuit. But until the IRS complies with the appeals court’s ruling this week, the list of those groups is secret.

Now that the class has been certified, the case moves to the discovery stage, where the tea party groups’ lawyers will ask for all of the agency’s documents related to the targeting and will depose IRS employees about their actions.

The lawyers hope they’ll be able to learn details Congress was unable to shake free in its own investigations.

The Justice Department has concluded its own criminal investigation into the IRS and said the targeting was the result of bad management. But investigators said they found no criminal behavior, and specifically cleared former IRS head Lois G. Lerner, saying her fellow employees said she tried to correct the problems when she learned of them.

Republicans dismissed that investigation as a whitewash by the Obama administration.

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Leftist Nutbag On CNN Asks Pam Geller If She Relishes Being Targeted For Death By Islamo-Nazis (Video)

CNN Host Actually Asks Pamela Geller If She Relishes Being The Target Of Boston Beheading Attack – Right Scoop

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Breaking tonight on CNN is the news that Pamela Geller was in fact one of the beheading targets of 26-year-old Usaama Rahim, a Muslim jihadi that police shot dead yesterday in Boston:

Usaamah Rahim, who was fatally shot after waving a military knife at law enforcement officers, was originally plotting to behead Pamela Geller, an activist and conservative blogger, law enforcement sources told CNN on Wednesday.

CNN host Erin Burnett gets Geller on the phone, and during the interview sites the Southern Poverty Law Center suggesting that Pamela Geller is the most visible and flamboyant figurehead of the anti-Muslim movement as they list her group as a ‘hate group’. She emphasizes the ‘hate group’ thing a couple of times, and then then asks Geller if she is stoking the flames of this ‘hate’ and if she relishes being the target of these attacks.

Talk about blaming the victim. Of course Geller responded by asking ‘who self promotes to get killed?’, pointing out the absurdity of the question.

Burnett also suggests in this interview that ‘two people died’ at Geller’s drawing Muhammad competition, as if to suggest they were bystanders who were victims of Geller’s hate or something, never mentioning that it was the terrorists themselves who died. Of course Geller corrected her.

Watch:

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Tea Partiers Gear Up For Class-Action Lawsuit As Federal Judge Orders IRS To Turn Over List Of Targeted Groups

Federal Judge Orders IRS To Release List Of Tea Party Groups Targeted For Scrutiny – Washington Times

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A federal judge ordered the IRS this week to turn over the list of 298 groups it targeted for intrusive scrutiny as the agency defends against a potential class-action lawsuit by tea party groups who claim their constitutional rights were violated.

The IRS had argued it shouldn’t have to release the names because doing so would violate privacy laws, but Judge Susan J. Dlott, who sits in the Southern District of Ohio, rejected that claim and ordered the tax agency to turn over any lists or spreadsheets detailing the groups that were targeted and when they filed their applications.

Judge Dlott also ordered the IRS to say whether a partial list of targeted groups reported by USA Today is authentic as a number of tea party groups try to win certification for a class action lawsuit against the IRS.

“The return information sought is directly related to the issue of class certification in this federal court proceeding,” the judge said. “The names of the putative class member organizations and their control dates – the date which the putative class member organizations submitted their applications for tax exempt status to the IRS – are directly related to the issue of class certification.”

The judge has not yet certified the tea party groups as a class, and the information that they’ve obtained so far through depositions remains under seal. But backers say if they can be certified, then they will begin to try to pry loose some of the key information about how the IRS chose which groups it went after in its targeting.

“We’re at the precipice,” said Mark Meckler, a member of one of the tea party groups suing, and also president of Citizens for Self-Governance, which is funding the litigation.

The Ohio lawsuit is the only major legal jeopardy still remaining in the courts for the IRS — though the agency is still facing an FBI investigation, according to documents obtained by True the Vote, a tea party group, under the Freedom of Information Act.

Earlier this week the deporting U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. informed House Speaker John A. Boehner he would not prosecute Lois G. Lerner, the former senior executive who’s at the center of the targeting scandal, for contempt of Congress. The prosecutor said Ms. Lerner didn’t waiver her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when she delivered an opening statement at a congressional hearing but then refused follow-up questions.

The scandal developed after the IRS acknowledged it singled out tea party groups for special scrutiny, and asked intrusive questions that agency executives later said were inappropriate. The IRS’s inspector general concluded that 298 groups were targeted, with all but a handful of them leaning toward the conservative side.

But the IRS has resisted releasing the official list, arguing that is private information.

“The Internal Revenue Service cannot disclose the identities of the potential class members because that is return information protected,” the administration said in its court filings.

The judge disagreed, saying exemptions in law apply to a case like this.

Several other cases had been filed in Washington, D.C., by tea party groups trying to force a judge to proactively halt any future targeting. The judge tossed those cases, saying that the IRS insists the targeting has ended, so there is no further action needed.

But some groups are still awaiting approval, including one that’s been pending for more than five years, which their lawyers argue means the IRS is still targeting despite its insistence that its program has ended.

Commissioner John Koskinen has said groups that are still waiting could take a deal, promising to limit their political activities to 40 percent of their business, but the groups argue that would mean giving up rights since they believe under current law politicking can be almost 50 percent of their activities.

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Pro-Israel Group Wins Ruling In Harassment Lawsuit Against Obama’s Corrupt IRS (Video)

Z-Street Wins Ruling Against IRS; Was Targeted By Obama Officials Because Of It’s Pro-Israel Views – Gateway Pundit

Z Street representative Lori Lowenthal Marcus spoke out in March 2013 about the harassment the pro-Israel group received from the Obama IRS:

“They told us terrorism happens in Israel. Therefore, they had to look into our organization because they thought we might be funding terrorism. We’re a purely educational entity. We didn’t fund anybody. We barely funded ourselves.”

Remember: This is the same administration that wouldn’t call the Benghazi massacre a terrorist attack but accused a pro-Israel group of supporting terror.

Via On the Record:

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Z-Street was told by the IRS that their application would be delayed because their pro-Israel views contradicted the views of the Obama administration.

This week a federal judge ruled in favor of Z-Street. The ruling will force the IRS to disclose procedures it used to target the pro-Israel group.

Jonathan Tobin at Commentary reported:

Interest in the Internal Revenue Service’s outrageous practice of subjecting politically conservative groups to discriminatory treatment has died down a bit since the revelations about this scandal first hit the news a year ago. But a court decision that was handed down earlier this week about a similar instance of potential government misconduct may shed more light on the way the Tea Party and other right-wing organizations were given the business by Lois Lerner and the rest of what appears to be a highly politicized bureaucracy at the heart of our tax collection system.

On Tuesday, Federal Judge Ketanje Brown Jackson issued the first substantive ruling in any suit that challenged the IRS’s pose of political neutrality under the Obama administration. The case concerns Z Street, a Philadelphia area-based pro-Israel organization that filed for tax-exempt status in December 2009 because of its role in educating the public about Israel and the Middle East conflict. The group’s founder Lori Lowenthal Marcus wrote in the Jewish Press this week about what followed:

On July 19, 2010, when counsel for Z STREET spoke with the IRS agent to whom the organization’s application had been assigned, that agent said that a determination on Z STREET’s application may be further delayed because the IRS gave “special scrutiny” to organizations connected to Israel and especially to those whose views “contradict those of the administration’s.”

Z Street subsequently sued the government and rightly argued that its constitutional rights had been violated because of the “viewpoint discrimination” that the IRS agent had openly displayed. Now after years of delays, Judge Jackson has ruled that by asserting that Z Street had no right to sue, the government had tried to “transform a lawsuit that clearly challenges the constitutionality of the process… into a dispute over tax liability.” She similarly dismissed the government’s claims of sovereign immunity.

What has this got to do with the Tea Party and its complaints? Plenty.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial page noted yesterday:

This ruling will force the IRS to open its books on the procedures it used and decisions it made reviewing Z Street’s tax-exempt application, procedures it has tried to keep shrouded. As the case proceeds, Z Street’s attorneys can seek depositions from many who have been part of the larger attempt to sit on similar applications by other conservative groups.

In other words, this case may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of the IRS’s politically prejudicial policies. If an IRS agent can reject or stall a pro-Israel group’s application on the grounds that “these cases are being sent to a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies,” then no group, no matter what its political orientation or cause is safe from being subjected to a political litmus test designed by any administration of either political party.

Read the rest here.

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Leftist Corruption Update: 100% Of Tax-Exempt Groups Targeted For Audits By IRS Were Conservative

Report: 100% Of Tax-Exempt Groups Singled Out For Audits By IRS Were Right-Leaning – Weasel Zippers

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Not a smidgen of corruption.

Via WSJ:

A Republican House committee chairman said the Internal Revenue Service targeted tax-exempt conservative groups for audits, widening the scope of GOP ire over the agency’s oversight of political activities.

House Democrats pushed back, saying Republicans were seeking to use the IRS controversy to score political points with their conservative base in an election year.

The IRS has been under scrutiny since an inspector general’s report last May found that the agency had targeted conservative groups for lengthy and heavy-handed review of their applications to become tax-exempt organizations under section 501(c) 4 of the tax code. The controversy led to significant management shakeups at the IRS and generated a slew of congressional investigations, some of which are still going on.

On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) said his committee’s continuing investigation has found that the IRS also singled out established conservative tax-exempt groups for audits.

“We now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s,” Mr. Camp said in a statement. “At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83% were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100% were right-leaning.”

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*VIDEO* Lawyer For Targeted Conservative Groups Slams FBI, Holder DOJ For Bogus IRS Investigation


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Obama’s IRS Goon Squad Ramping Up Efforts To Target Conservative Groups In 2014 – Weasel Zippers

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Via WSJ:

President Obama and Democrats have been at great pains to insist they knew nothing about IRS targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofits before the 2012 election. They’ve been at even greater pains this week to ensure that the same conservative groups are silenced in the 2014 midterms.

That’s the big, dirty secret of the omnibus negotiations. As one of the only bills destined to pass this year, the omnibus was—behind the scenes—a flurry of horse trading. One of the biggest fights was over GOP efforts to include language to stop the IRS from instituting a new round of 501(c)(4) targeting. The White House is so counting on the tax agency to muzzle its political opponents that it willingly sacrificed any manner of its own priorities to keep the muzzle in place.

And now back to our previously scheduled outrage over the Chris Christie administration’s abuse of traffic cones on the George Washington Bridge.

Yet my sources say that throughout the negotiations Democrats went all in on keeping the IRS rule, even though it meant losing their own priorities. In the final hours before the omnibus was introduced Monday night, the administration made a last push for IMF money. Asked to negotiate that demand in the context of new IRS language, it refused.

That’s a lot to sacrifice for a rule that the administration has barely noted in public, and that then-acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel claimed last fall when it was introduced is simply about providing “clarity” to nonprofits. It only makes sense in a purely political context. The president’s approval ratings are in the toilet, the economy is in idle, the ObamaCare debate rages on, and the White House has a Senate majority to preserve. With one little IRS rule it can shut up hundreds of groups that pose a direct threat by restricting their ability to speak freely in an election season about spending or ObamaCare or jobs. And it gets away with it by positioning this new targeting as a fix for the first round.

This week’s Democratic rally-round further highlights the intensely political nature of their IRS rule. It was quietly dropped in the runup to the holiday season, to minimize the likelihood of an organized protest during its comment period. That 90-day comment period meantime ends on Feb. 27, positioning the administration to shut down conservative groups early in this election cycle.

Keep reading

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*VIDEO* Dr. Ben Carson Targeted By Obama’s IRS Shortly After His Prayer Breakfast Speech


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Your Daley Gator Feel-Good Story O’ The Day

Car Thief’s Horrible Miscalculation Turns Out To Be Deadly After He Targeted Armed Former Marine Who Was Just As Heroic As You’d Expect – The Blaze

A former Marine in Maple Valley, Wash., didn’t expect to encounter a car thief breaking into his truck as he prepared to walk his dog Tuesday morning. Then again, the thief didn’t expect to run into an armed former Marine either.

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The thief, identified only as a 27-year-old male, and his girlfriend were reportedly driving a stolen Honda with stolen plates when they decided to break into a pickup truck. As the owner of the truck, the former Marine, came out to walk his dog, he saw the crime in progress and confronted the criminals.

In an instant, guns were drawn and bullets were flying through the air. The former Marine was deadly accurate, hitting the male suspect several times before he could hide behind the truck. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

The former Marine, identified by KING5 as “Keenan,” 24, was also just as heroic as you’d expect someone with such a distinction to be.

His aunt reportedly witnessed the attempted carjacking and is positive her nephew’s brave actions saved her life.

“He shoved me out of the way when the guy was going to shoot at us,” Kristen Hague told KOMO-TV. She also said it looked like the thief had a gun and Keenan “pushed me out of the way and yelled ‘gun!’ and I don’t think if he would have done that, I would be alive… I think he was defending me – I totally see it.”

More from KING5:

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Though the incident ended badly for the suspect, Hague said the shooting was completely justified.

“My life was in danger; my nephew’s life was in danger, and he did the right thing even though it ended really bad and really sad,” she added.

The woman even reportedly attempted CPR on the suspect who had just tried to shoot her until medics arrived.

“Detectives say they recovered at least two weapons from the scene – a .45 caliber apparently used by the thief and a 9 millimeter from the man who shot the suspect,” KOMO-TV reports.

The deceased suspect’s girlfriend was arrested in the incident and police learned she also had a felony arrest warrant for burglary.

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Twelve Different IRS Units Nationwide Targeted Conservatives

Twelve Different IRS Units Nationwide Targeted Conservatives – Daily Caller

Twelve different groups within the IRS targeted conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt nonprofit status, according to the attorneys representing tea party plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the IRS.

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The revelation disproves the suggestion by a top congressional Democrat that only one IRS group was responsible for scrutinizing tea party and conservative applications.

Group 7821, Group 7822, Group 7823, Group 7824, Group 7827, Group 7828, Group 7829, Group 7830, Group 7838, EOG-7887, and EOG-7888, and the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division in Washington, D.C. all targeted conservative groups between 2010 and 2012, according to documentation compiled by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has filed a class-action suit against the IRS.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigating the IRS targeting scandal, previously suggested that tea party applications were sent only to Group 7822 for scrutiny. Cummings released transcripts of an interview his staff conducted with John Shafer, an employee of the Cincinnati IRS office, who claimed that he sent tea party applications specifically to Group 7822.

“Based upon everything I’ve seen the case is solved,” Cummings said on CNN during a June 9 interview.

The ACLJ disagrees.

“[John] Shafer was just one individual describing his experience interacting with one group [Group 7822]. If he was only interacting with one group then his involvement in this process was minimal,” ACLJ senior counsel David French told The Daily Caller.

“Group 7822 was pinpointed because of the release from Rep. Cummings, which created the impression that there were one or two agents that referred to a single group,” French said. “In fact we are dealing with multiple IRS offices across the nation that were targeting conservative groups, and eleven different IRS groups beside Group 7822, including the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division in Washington. Each of these groups was working on tea party and conservative cases.”

“After Rep. Cummings’ statement, the media fixated on Group 7822 as the patient zero of the outbreak when the reality is it was many groups, so the IRS hierarchy is much more implicated,” French said.

Between 2010 and 2012, the IRS sent letters to tea party applicants across the country demanding more information before their tax-exempt applications could be approved. On the upper left-hand corner of these letters, the IRS identified the working group within the agency requesting the information. Twelve different groups appeared on these letters, according to French.

The El Monte, California IRS office, for instance, sent a letter requesting additional information to Oklahoma City Patriots in Action, dated February 9, 2012, which listed the IRS group EOG-7887 in the upper left-hand corner.

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“We’re going to find out the differences between these IRS groups in litigation,” French said. “Which personnel were in each group? Was there overlap in personnel?”

It remains unclear whether these IRS groups existed prior to the targeting. It is also unclear whether these groups each had their own physical locations, according to French.

Despite claims by IRS officials that the targeting occurred only in the agency’s Cincinnati office, the ACLJ compiled letters proving that IRS offices in Washington, D.C. and the California cities of El Monte and Laguna Niguel also targeted conservatives. The Daily Caller has also reported that the agency’s Baltimore and Chicago offices engaged in the improper targeting.

Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre told congressional investigators that Washington-based IRS lawyer Carter Hull oversaw her office’s targeting, and even instructed her on how to demand additional information from tea party groups. “I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull’s influence or input,” Hofacre said.

“We know that the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division in Washington, D.C. was involved, and that’s where Carter Hull and Lois Lerner were working. We have 14 letters directly from Lois Lerner,” French said. “When Lois Lerner said on May 10 that this was just a few agents in Cincinnati, we were literally holding in our hands 14 letters that she wrote to conservative groups.”

The IRS did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Obama’s IRS Targeted, Infiltrated And Harassed Christian Churches

Confirmed: Obama IRS Targeted, Infiltrated And Harassed Christian Churches – Gateway Pundit

The Obama Internal Revenue Service targeted several Christian groups including a 180 year-old Baptist paper.

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The Obama IRS targeted Christian groups including Franklin Graham and the 180 year-old Biblical Recorder.

The Obama IRS implemented a program to infiltrate and target conservative, evangelical Christian churches.

The Examiner reported:

On Thursday the Examiner provided an exclusive report indicating that the Obama administration had implemented a covert program beginning in 2009 that was intended to spy on conservative, evangelical Christian churches.

That program involved infiltration – sending in government operatives to join churches for the purpose of data collection. The government snoops would keep their eyes and ears open for criticism of the Obama administration, talk of Tea Party participation, conversations about gun ownership, and a number of other issues.

But a special report issued today by Fox News indicates that the program went far beyond infiltration and snooping. The IRS was used to harass Christian churches if they were identified as places where large numbers of anti-Obama citizens congregated for worship.

The Obama administration, according to the report, considered any public criticism of administration policies to be political in nature and should therefore impact whether or not these congregations were allowed to gain or keep their tax exempt status.

But pastors have long maintained that there are a myriad of areas where political and moral/spiritual issues overlap, and thus, the pastors feel obligated as the guardians of spiritual truth to speak out concerning these issues.

Abortion, for example, is both a political and a spiritual issue. Most conservative, evangelical Christians believe that Biblical principles are abundantly clear concerning the sanctity of human life. And many pastors thus feel constrained by their calling to condemn abortion as a hideous and barbaric assault on the sacredness of human life.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization, were both targeted by the Obama IRS.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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IRS Supervisor Admits Personally Handling Dozens Of Tea Party Cases – Big Government

An IRS supervisor who oversaw over 200 agents in the Cincinnati office admitted that she personally reviewed applications from conservative and Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status. Her statements contradict assertions by other IRS officials that “rogue” agents were solely responsible for the targeting.

The Associated Press reports that Holly Paz, “a top deputy in the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status,” told congressional investigators that she personally reviewed “20 to 30 applications.”

According to ABC affiliate WCPO, Paz worked at the Cincinnati office as a manager while the “systematic scrutiny of conservative groups” occurred but now serves as “the director of the office rulings and agreements for the IRS in Washington, D.C.”

Paz is a registered Democrat who donated $4,000 to the Obama campaign in 2008 and is currently on administrative leave, according to her lawyer.

IRS officials have insisted that “rogue” agents in the Cincinnati office were responsible for the targeting, even though workers in the office like Elizabeth Hofacre have insisted there were so many checks in place that it was virtually impossible for them to “go off the reservation.”

Paz seems to have confirmed Hofacre’s objections, telling investigators that “Tea Party” applications were forwarded to her from Cincinnati, and she then sent those applications to legal experts in D.C. She also admitted “dozens of tea party applications sat untouched for more than a year while field agents waited for guidance from Washington on how to handle them.”

Paz reportedly told investigators last month that she thought “Tea Party” was shorthand for all political groups, since the first case she reviewed in D.C. in 2010 happened to be a Tea Party case. According to USA Today, Paz told investigators that she thought “Tea Party” could refer to a liberal or conservative organization, just like “‘Coke’ is used as a generic term for soda” and people “refer to tissues as ‘Kleenex.'”

Yet Hofacre, the paper notes, “told investigators that she kicked out any progressive groups that other agents tried to put in with the Tea Party cases” and “understood the term to mean conservative or Republican groups.”

“I was tasked to do Tea Parties, and I wasn’t – I wasn’t equipped or set up to do anything else,” she reportedly told investigators. USA Today also found that IRS data showed “dozens of liberal groups received tax-exempt approval in the 27 months that Tea Party groups sat in limbo, even though the liberal groups were engaging in similar kids of activity.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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The IRS Vs. Pro-Israel Groups – National Review

Applications of pro-Israel groups for tax-exempt status are routinely routed to an antiterrorism unit within the Internal Revenue Service for additional screening, according to the testimony of a Cincinnati-based IRS agent.

Asked whether Jewish or pro-Israel applications are treated differently from other applications, Gary Muthert told House Oversight Committee investigators that they are considered “specialty cases” and that “probably” all are sent to an IRS unit that examines groups for potential terrorist ties.

Muthert, who served as an application screener before transferring to the agency’s antiterrorism unit, was interviewed in connection with the committee’s investigation into the IRS’s discrimination against conservative groups. As a screener, Muthert flagged tea-party applications and passed them along to specialists for further scrutiny.

Asked by investigators whether “all pro-Israel applicants went to the terrorism unit,” Muthert responded, “Probably… foreign activity, pro-Israel – if it is any type of foreign activity, it will go to the antiterrorism area.” Screeners like Muthert must consult the list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Treasury Department office that enforces economic and trade sanctions, and “the terrorist list… because a lot of organizations will create charities to funnel the money to terrorist countries.” In further questioning, Muthert was more categorical, saying that pro-Israel groups get “not so much additional scrutiny, just more procedures.”

“More review?” an investigator asked.

“Clearly, correct,” Muthert responded.

The IRS’s practices as described by Muthert touch on a political debate that has been raging in the United States and Israel since 2009. That’s when Washington Post columnist David Ignatius noted that opponents of Israeli settlements were fighting against tax exemption for groups that raise charitable contributions for organizations that support Israeli settlements. “Critics of Israeli settlements question why American taxpayers are supporting indirectly, through the exempt contributions, a process that the government condemns,” Ignatius wrote.

On March 27, 2009, the day after Ignatius’s article appeared, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) filed a spate of administrative complaints with the Treasury Department and the IRS, alleging that pro-Israel groups raising funds for settlements in the West Bank were supporting “illegal and terrorist activities abroad.” Later that year, in October, the ADC said that it was waging an ongoing legal campaign against the IRS for what the ADC regarded as violations of the tax code by some pro-Israel groups.

The following year, in 2010, a New York Times report observed that “donations to the settler movement stand out because of the centrality of the settlement issue in the current [American-Israeli] talks and the fact that Washington has consistently refused to allow Israel to spend American government aid in the settlements.” The article quoted State Department officials complaining about the American dollars flowing to Israeli settlers. “It’s a problem,” a senior State Department official told the Times. The implication was that it may be wrong to grant tax-exempt status to groups devoted to causes that undermine administration policy. Relying on information in the Times article, the left-leaning advocacy group J Street called on the Treasury Department to investigate whether pro-Israel organizations collecting tax-deductible gifts for schools, synagogues, and recreation centers in the West Bank had broken the law by supporting certain Israeli settlements.

Throughout this debate, whether pro-Israel groups have been receiving additional scrutiny from the IRS has remained unclear. But in 2010, after the pro-Israel organization Z Street applied for tax-exempt status, the IRS sent it requests for further information. Z Street sued the IRS in October 2010, claiming it was targeted merely for being connected to Israel. According to court documents, an IRS official told the group that its application was delayed because it was assigned to a “special unit” to determine “whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”

Certainly, charities based in the United States have funneled money to Israeli charities that are controlled by terrorist groups in Israel. But those charities have not been of a pro-Israel bent. The most-high profile case is that of the Holy Land Foundation, the Texas-based charity whose employees were indicted in 2004 for using the group as a front to provide material support to Hamas.

The policy that the applications of pro-Israel groups be examined by the IRS’s antiterrorism unit was instituted “probably years ago,” according to Muthert in his testimony. That testimony leaves unclear whether the news coverage in 2009 and 2010 prompted the scrutiny to which groups like Z Street say they have been subjected, or whether every nonprofit group whose application indicates it may engage in foreign activity, regardless of the country, is put under the microscope.

According to Muthert, it’s the latter, and he denies that pro-Israel applications are treated differently from those of other groups that claim they plan to engage with foreign countries. “It has to do with money laundering and things, because a lot of organizations will create charities to funnel the money to terrorist countries,” he explained. “So it is not so much Israel. It is just foreign countries.”

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Wife Of IRS Commissioner Was Part Of OFA Occupy DC, Protested Against IRS Targeted Groups And Individuals

Wife Of IRS Commissioner Shulman Was Part Of OFA Occupy DC And Protested/Tweeted Against IRS Targeted Groups/Individuals – Weasel Zippers

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Remember Douglas Shulman, the former IRS commissioner, who was on the job when the targeting of conservatives began? The man who according to White House records of public visits, may have visited the White House at least 157 times? The man who during questioning admitted to visiting at least 118 times? The man who when questioned about why he visited so much, flippantly mentioned the Easter Egg Roll with his kids?

Shulman, who Democrats have been fond of saying was a Bush appointee, was, however, a DNC donor.

Perhaps even more instructive is the activity of Shulman’s wife, Susan L. Anderson. We previously reported that she was working for a liberal organization, Public Campaign, a group that was supposedly about campaign finance reform.

Turns out, she also was working for Organizing For America, the Obama political arm. OFA, of course, didn’t have to suffer IRS targeting, when it became an “independent” (cough-cough) organization (while still promoting Barack Obama), and applied for its exempt status.

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She also tweeted, attacking Romney and raising the Harry Reid questioning of Romney’s taxes. Makes one wonder again about the “source” of Reid’s so-called information. When her husband was questioned during hearings, he claimed not to know how Reid came by any such information.

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She tweeted notably against Karl Rove and his Crossroads group, urging her Twitter followers to protest them:

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Crossroads has claimed that the IRS targeted them and leaked private information on their application:

“We filed for a 501(c)(4) status – and three years later, that process has not ended for us,” Rove tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview.

He said the group’s application may well be suspended by now, since it was among nine conservative organizations whose information was leaked to ProPublica, the liberal investigative website.

The groups’ applications had not yet been approved for nonprofit status. Releasing information on unapproved applicants is against IRS rules.

“This violated the law, and shortly thereafter we were told by the IRS that an investigation into the leaking of these documents was underway and that put our application into suspension for a while.”

He adds that, “we, frankly, aren’t surprised,” since Obama made a “thinly-veiled reference” to conservative groups like Crossroads in a 2010 speech as “a threat to democracy.”

Protesting with Wisconsin union:

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Protesting with Occupy DC:

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Anderson even tweeted a hit piece by Media Matters, which referred to complaints about the IRS targeting of Frank VanderSloot, a Romney donor, as “boohooing”. VanderSloot was singled out as “evil” when the Obama campaign put his name and the name of seven other Romney donors on a website, degrading them and their actions as possibly “questionable”. After that, VanderSloot suddenly found himself under investigation by multiple government entities.

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She may have had her own visits to the White House and with the President, although obviously “Susan Anderson” is perhaps not an uncommon name:

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Among the 105 twitter accounts Anderson follows, she follows every typical progressive media/cause account, including Pro Publica, the group to whom the IRS is accused of having leaked private information about Crossroads. She also coincidentally follows all three of the liberal media we wrote about having a private meeting at the White House, and Nick Confessore, a political reporter for the NY Times, who wrote more favorable pieces essentially blaming the IRS troubles on “confusion” in the Cincinnati office and most recently, attacking the victims of the targeting, claiming they were involved in political activity (which, under the IRS guidelines, is allowed, to a degree).

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IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Documents From Conservative Groups

IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups – ProPublica

The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.

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The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.

In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved – meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)

On Friday, Lois Lerner, the head of the division on tax-exempt organizations, apologized to Tea Party and other conservative groups because the IRS’ Cincinnati office had unfairly targeted them. Tea Party groups had complained in early 2012 that they were being sent overly intrusive questionnaires in response to their applications.

That scrutiny appears to have gone beyond Tea Party groups to applicants saying they wanted to educate the public to “make America a better place to live” or that criticized how the country was being run, according to a draft audit cited by many outlets. The full audit, by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, will reportedly be released this week. (ProPublica was not contacted by the inspector general’s office.)

Before the 2012 election, ProPublica devoted months to showing how dozens of social-welfare nonprofits had misled the IRS about their political activity on their applications and tax returns. Social-welfare nonprofits are allowed to spend money to influence elections, as long as their primary purpose is improving social welfare. Unlike super PACs and regular political action committees, they do not have to identify their donors.

In 2012, nonprofits that didn’t have to report their donors poured an unprecedented $322 million into the election. Much of that money – 84 percent – came from conservative groups.

As part of its reporting, ProPublica regularly requested applications from the IRS’s Cincinnati office, which is responsible for reviewing applications from nonprofits.

Social welfare nonprofits are not required to apply to the IRS to operate. Many politically active new conservative groups apply anyway. Getting IRS approval can help with donations and help insulate groups from further scrutiny. Many politically active new liberal nonprofits have not applied.

Applications become public only after the IRS approves a group’s tax-exempt status.

On Nov. 15, 2012, ProPublica requested the applications of 67 nonprofits, all of which had spent money on the 2012 elections. (Because no social welfare groups with Tea Party in their names spent money on the election, ProPublica did not at that point request their applications. We had requested the Tea Party applications earlier, after the groups first complained about being singled out by the IRS. In response, the IRS said it could find no record of the tax-exempt status of those groups – typically how it responds to requests for unapproved applications.)

Just 13 days after ProPublica sent in its request, the IRS responded with the documents on 31 social welfare groups.

One of the applications the IRS released to ProPublica was from Crossroads GPS, the largest social-welfare nonprofit involved in the 2012 election. The group, started in part by GOP consultant Karl Rove, promised the IRS that any effort to influence elections would be “limited.” The group spent more than $70 million from anonymous donors in 2012.

Applications were sent to ProPublica from five other social welfare groups that had told the IRS that they wouldn’t spend money to sway elections. The other groups ended up spending more than $5 million related to the election, mainly to support Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Much of that money was spent by the Arizona group Americans for Responsible Leadership. The remaining four groups that told the IRS they wouldn’t engage in political spending were Freedom Path, Rightchange.com II, America Is Not Stupid and A Better America Now.

The IRS also sent ProPublica the applications of three small conservative groups that told the agency that they would spend some money on politics: Citizen Awareness Project, the YG Network and SecureAmericaNow.org. (No unapproved applications from liberal groups were sent to ProPublica.)

The IRS cover letter sent with the documents was from the Cincinnati office, and signed by Cindy Thomas, listed as the manager for Exempt Organizations Determinations, whom a biography for a Cincinnati Bar Association meeting in January says has worked for the IRS for 35 years. (Thomas often signed the cover letters of responses to ProPublica requests.) The cover letter listed an IRS employee named Sophia Brown as the person to contact for more information about the records. We tried to contact both Thomas and Brown today but were unable to reach them.

After receiving the unapproved applications, ProPublica tried to determine why they had been sent. In emails, IRS spokespeople said ProPublica shouldn’t have received them.

“It has come to our attention that you are in receipt of application materials of organizations that have not been recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt,” wrote one spokeswoman, Michelle Eldridge. She cited a law saying that publishing unauthorized returns or return information was a felony punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

In response, ProPublica’s then-general manager and now president, Richard Tofel, said, “ProPublica believes that the information we are publishing is not barred by the statute cited by the IRS, and it is clear to us that there is a strong First Amendment interest in its publication.”

ProPublica also redacted parts of the application to omit financial information.

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Crossroads GPS, declined to comment today on whether he thought the IRS’s release of the group’s application could have been linked to recent news that the Cincinnati office was targeting conservative groups.

Last December, Collegio wrote in an email: “As far as we know, the Crossroads application is still pending, in which case it seems that either you obtained whatever document you have illegally, or that it has been approved.”

This year, the IRS appears to have changed the office that responds to requests for nonprofits’ applications. Previously, the IRS asked journalists to fax requests to a number with a 513 area code – which includes Cincinnati. ProPublica sent a request by fax on Feb. 5 to the Ohio area code. On March 13, that request was answered by David Fish, a director of Exempt Organizations Guidance, in Washington, D.C.

In early April, a ProPublica reporter’s request to the Ohio fax number bounced back. An IRS spokesman said at the time the number had changed “recently.” The new fax number begins with 202, the area code for Washington, D.C.

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IRS Officials In Washington Targeted Conservatives, California Offices Now Involved

IRS Officials In Washington Were Involved In Targeting Of Conservative Groups – Washington Post

Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.

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IRS employees in Cincinnati told conservatives seeking the status of “social welfare” groups that a task force in Washington was overseeing their applications, according to interviews with the activists.

Lois G. Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, told reporters Friday that the “absolutely inappropriate” actions were undertaken by “front-line people” working in Cincinnati to target groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names.

In one instance, however, Ron Bell, an IRS employee, informed a lawyer representing a conservative group focused on voter fraud that the application was under review in Washington. On several other occasions, IRS officials in Washington and California sent conservative groups detailed questionnaires about their voter outreach and other activities, according to the documents.

“For the IRS to say it was some low-level group in Cincinnati is simply false,” said Cleta Mitchell, a partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner who sought to communicate with IRS headquarters about the delay in granting tax-exempt status to True the Vote.

Moreover, details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ­(TIGTA) on the details of their reviews.

Then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee who stepped down in November, received a briefing from the TIGTA about what was happening in the Cincinnati office in May 2012, the aides said. His deputy and the agency’s current acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, also learned about the matter that month, the aides said.

The officials did not share details with Republican lawmakers who had been demanding to know whether the IRS was targeting conservative groups, Republicans said.

“I wrote to the IRS three times last year after hearing concerns that conservative groups were being targeted,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Monday. “In response to the first letter I sent with some of my colleagues, Steven Miller, the current Acting IRS Commissioner, responded that these groups weren’t being targeted.”

“Knowing what we know now,” he added, “the IRS was at best being far from forth coming, or at worst, being deliberately dishonest with Congress.”

In a news conference Monday, President Obama said he learned of the investigating in media reports on Friday and has “no patience with it.”

“If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on, and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous,” Obama said. “And there’s no place for it. And they have to be held fully accountable.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday that the White House counsel’s office learned of an upcoming IRS inspector general’s report on April 22 as part of a routine notification but had not received access to the report.

On Capitol Hill, two Senate panels – the Finance Committee and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations – announced Monday that they will investigate. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Ways and Means Committee have been looking into reports of IRS attempts to single out organizations on the right for heightened scrutiny. Ways and Means has called IRS officials to testify Friday.

“These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). “The IRS will now be the ones put under additional scrutiny.”

Separately, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) introduced companion bills Monday that would require the IRS to fire any employee found “willfully” violating “the constitutional rights of a taxpayer,” according to statements by both lawmakers. The bills also would make them criminally liable for their actions.

Even as Obama vowed that his administration “will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this,” however, the IRS offered no new information on how it selected which groups to single out for scrutiny.

The White House is legally barred from contacting the IRS about a tax matter, under a prohibition adopted after the Watergate scandal. And although it can contact the Treasury Department about tax issues, neither Treasury nor the IRS can disclose specific taxpayer information. The IRS can release information about a petition for tax-exempt status only after it has been approved.

Obama is not in a position to remove Lerner, a career official who can be terminated for cause only under normal civil service proceedings. The IRS has two political appointees: the commissioner, who serves a five-year term, and the chief counsel.

As the IRS came under broader political attack Monday, more details surfaced on how the exempt-organizations division struggled to determine which nonprofits should receive “social welfare” status after the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. That decision, which allowed corporations and unions to raise and spend un­limited amounts of money on elections, opened the door for groups to accept undisclosed contributions as long as their “primary purpose” was not politics.

In a Jan. 9, 2012, letter to the Richmond Tea Party, IRS specialist Stephen Seok asked questions including “the names of the donors, contributors and grantors,” as well as the size of the contributions and grants, and when they were given.

Richmond Tea Party President Larry Nordvig, whose group applied for tax-exempt status in December 2009 and received it in July 2012, said the extended inquiry had “a very chilling effect” on how much money the group could raise because its donors preferred anonymity.

The Wetumpka Tea Party of Alabama experienced a two-year delay after submitting its initial application.

Becky Gerritson, a 44-year-old stay-at-home mother and the group’s president, said the IRS sent a questionnaire asking for the names of all volunteers, donor identification and contribution amounts, the names of any legislators its members had communicated with directly or indirectly, and the contents of all speeches its members had made, among a long list of other details.

“I was outraged,” Gerritson said. “Being an election year, I felt like it was intimidation.”

The group did not provide the information. Approval came only after the group sought help from the American Center for Law and Justice, which threatened a lawsuit against the IRS, Gerritson said.

Although some of the groups were explicitly labeled “tea party” or “patriot,” others that came under intense scrutiny were focused on challenging the Affordable Care Act – known by many as Obamacare – or the integrity of federal elections.

In a June 3, 2011, letter to the IRS, Mitchell questioned the agency’s motivations for delaying recognition of one of her clients who had filed nearly two years earlier, writing, “Is the [group’s] opposition to Obamacare and the takeover of America’s healthcare system by the government the reason that this application has been held up and not approved?”

Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the Houston-based True the Vote, first filed for tax-exempt status in July 2010. At one point, Engelbrecht – who is still awaiting a determination from the IRS regarding her voting rights organization and a separate tea party group, King Street Patriots – said an IRS employee informed her: “I’m just doing what Washington is telling me to do. I’m just asking what they want me to ask.”

The IRS did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

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IRS Knew Tea Party Targeted In 2011

IRS Knew Tea Party Targeted In 2011 – Associated Press

Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general’s report obtained by The Associated Press that contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner.

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Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Douglas Shulman testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the House Oversight Committee

The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.

But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “Tea Party,” ”Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.

The 9/12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck. In a statement to the AP, Beck suggested that the revelations were hardly news to him and other conservatives.

“In February 2012, TheBlaze first reported what the IRS now admits to — that they unfairly targeted conservative groups including the 9/12 project,” Beck said, citing his website and TV network. “It is nice to see everyone else playing catch-up and finally asking the same questions that TheBlaze started raising over a year ago.”

Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups “immediately,” the report says.

The Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week. The AP obtained part of the draft report, which has been shared with congressional aides.

Among the other revelations, on Aug. 4, 2011, staffers in the IRS’ Rulings and Agreements office “held a meeting with chief counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.”

On Jan, 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement,” the report says.

While this was happening, several committees in Congress were writing numerous letters IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to express concern because tea party groups were complaining of IRS harassment.

In Shulman’s responses, he did not acknowledge targeting of tea party groups. At a congressional hearing March 22, 2012, Shulman was adamant in his denials.

“There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman said at the House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing.

The portion of the draft report reviewed by the AP does not say whether Shulman or anyone else in the Obama administration outside the IRS was informed of the targeting. It is standard procedure for agency heads to consult with staff before responding to congressional inquiries, but it is unclear how much information Shulman sought.

The IRS has not said when Shulman found out that Tea Party groups were targeted.

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

The IRS said in a statement Saturday that the agency believes the timeline in the IG’s report is correct, and supports what officials said Friday.

“IRS senior leadership was not aware of this level of specific details at the time of the March 2012 hearing,” the statement said. “The timeline does not contradict the commissioner’s testimony. While exempt organizations officials knew of the situation earlier, the timeline reflects that IRS senior leadership did not have this level of detail.”

Lerner’s position is three levels below the commissioner.

“The timeline supports what the IRS acknowledged on Friday that mistakes were made,” the statement continued. “There were not partisan reasons behind this.”

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee’s oversight subcommittee, said the report “raises serious questions as to who at IRS, Treasury and in the administration knew about this, why this practice was allowed to continue for as long as it did, and how widespread it was.”

“This timeline reveals at least two extremely unethical actions by the IRS. One, as early as 2010, they targeted groups for political purposes. Two, they willfully and knowingly lied to Congress for years despite being aware that Congress was investigating this practice,” Boustany said.

“This is an outrageous abuse of power. Going after organizations for referencing the Bill of Rights or expressing the intent to make this country a better place is repugnant,” Boustany added. “There is no excuse for this behavior.”

Several congressional committees have promised investigations, including the Ways and Means Committee, which plans to hold a hearing.

“The admission by the agency that it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both shocking and disappointing,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “We will hold the IRS accountable for its actions.”

The group Tea Party Patriots said the revelation was proof that the IRS had lied to Congress and the public when Schulman said there had been no targeting of tea party groups.

“We must know how many more lies they have been telling and how high up the chain the cover-up goes,” Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for the group Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement Saturday.

“It appears the IRS committed crimes and violated our ability to exercise our First Amendment right to free speech. A simple apology is not sufficient reparation for violating the constitutional rights of United States citizens. Therefore, Tea Party Patriots rejects the apology from the Internal Revenue Service,” Martin said. “We are, however, encouraged to hear that Congress plans to investigate. Those responsible must be held accountable and resign or be terminated for their actions.”

On Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration expected the inspector general to conduct a thorough investigation, but he brushed aside calls for the White House itself to investigate.

Many conservative groups complained during the 2012 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 have made available, sought information about group members’ political activities, including details of their postings on social networking websites and about family members.

In some cases, the IRS acknowledged, agents inappropriately asked for lists of donors.

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.

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 on Friday 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 told the AP on Friday. “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.

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

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Obama’s IRS Admits It Targeted Conservatives For Extra Scrutiny During 2012 Election

IRS Admits, Apologizes For Targeting Conservatives During 2012 Election – Zero Hedge

Just because you are a conservative and paranoid, doesn’t mean the IRS is not after you. And, assuming the AP was not hacked again, this is precisely what happened. In a stunning disclosure, the supposedly impartial Internal Revenue Service has admitted and apologized for flagging and subjecting to extra reviews, conservative political groups – those that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” – during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. No such privilege was apparently afforded to groups identifying themselves as “liberal.”

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From AP:

The Internal Revenue Service is apologizing for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.

Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.

Many conservative groups complained during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS. They said the agency asked them an inordinate number of questions to justify their tax-exempt status.

Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities but it cannot be their primary activity.

It does make one wonder, just how far the IRS goes to make the lives of conservatives a living hell: will all 2012 tax audits be those who on their facebook profile admit to liking Ron Paul? And just how far does the IRS invade personal privacy to determine how any one tax filer is indeed, a “conservative?” But don’t worry – aside from the obvious persecutions, America is a free country for one and all.

One wonders: how long until “conservatives” engage in “tax-avoiding” blowback and really give the IRS reason to persecute them. Alternatively, one wonders the IRS is simply limited by logistical considerations, due to the notional difference in number of actual tax filings submitted by “conservatives” vs “liberals” and the prepondrance of one group over the other…

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Flashback: Mark Levin Asks IG To Probe Possible IRS Misconduct In Dealing With Tea Party – CNS

March 23, 2012

Landmark Legal Foundation sent a letter on Friday to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration requesting an investigation to determine whether officials with the Internal Revenue Service have engaged in misconduct in dealing with applications from Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status under section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

“Landmark Legal Foundation requests an immediate investigation into possible misconduct by the Internal Revenue Service’s Exempt Organization (EO) Divisoin that calls into question the integrity of federal tax administration and IRS programs,” said the letter signed by Landmark President Mark Levin.

“Recent media reports indicate that the EO Division is using inappropriate and intimidating investigation tactics in the administration of applications for exempt status submitted by organizations associated with the Tea Party movement,” Levin wrote.

As CNSNews.com reported earlier this month, the American Center for Law and Justice, which says it represents nearly 20 Tea Party organizations nationwide, put out a statement on March 7 complaining about what it perceived to be improper treatment of Tea Party groups by the IRS.

“This appears to be a coordinated attempt to intimidate Tea Party organizations by demanding information that is outside the scope of legitimate inquiry and violates the First Amendment,” ACLJ Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow said in a statement.

“These organizations have followed the law and applied for tax exempt status for their activities as Americans have done for decades,” Sekulow said. “The problem here is the IRS has gone beyond legitimate inquiries and is demanding that these organizations answer questions that actually violate the First Amendment rights of our clients.”

“This intimidation campaign is as onerous as what the IRS did to the NAACP in the 1950’s and is simply unacceptable,” said Sekulow. “We will aggressively defend our clients and are prepared to take the IRS to court if necessary.”

In his letter to the inspector general, Landmark’s Levin said that the types of inquiries the IRS was making of Tea Party groups were inappropriate.

“The information demanded in many cases goes far beyond the appropriate level of inquiry regarding the religious, charitable and/or educational activities of a tax exempt entity,” said Levin.

“The inquiries are not relevant to these permitted activities,” Levin wrote. “Inquiries extend to organizational policy positions and priorities, personal and poltiical affiliations, and associations of staff, board members and even family members of staff and board members.”

“Finally,” said Levin, “reports that Tea Party-related organizations are being singled out for the IRS’s intrusive inquries raises serious questions about the propriety of the personnel involved in the evaluation of tax exemption applications.”

Landmark Legal Foundation also asked the inspector general to “determine whether the relevant IRS employees are acting at the direction of politically motivated superiors.”

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration provides “independent oversight of IRS activities.”

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Tax Audits Are No Laughing Matter – Wall Street Journal

Barack Obama owes his presidency in no small part to the power of rhetoric. It’s too bad he doesn’t appreciate the damage that loose talk can do to America’s tax system, even as exploding federal deficits make revenues more important than ever.

At his Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, Mr. Obama noted that ASU had refused to grant him an honorary degree, citing his lack of experience, and the controversy this had caused. He then demonstrated ASU’s point by remarking, “I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets… President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.”

Just a joke about the power of the presidency. Made by Jay Leno it might have been funny. But as told by Mr. Obama, the actual president of the United States, it’s hard to see the humor. Surely he’s aware that other presidents, most notably Richard Nixon, have abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass their political opponents. But that abuse generated a powerful backlash and with good reason. Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system.

Our income-tax system is based on voluntary compliance and honest reporting by citizens. It couldn’t possibly function if most people decided to cheat. Sure, the system is backed up by the dreaded IRS audit. But the threat is, while not exactly hollow, limited: The IRS can’t audit more than a tiny fraction of taxpayers. If Americans started acting like Italians, who famously see tax evasion as a national pastime, the system would collapse.

One reason why Americans don’t act like Italians is that they see the income-tax system as basically fair in execution. A tax audit or a tax-fraud prosecution is still seen, usually, as evidence that someone has done something wrong. If it comes instead to be seen as “just politics” then the moral component of the system will be gone. For the system to work, people have to believe that it is fundamentally fair.

This is why the IRS is so strict with its own employees. Paul Caron, a professor at the University of Cincinnati who writes the TaxProf blog, noted in response to Mr. Obama’s remarks that the law calls for the termination of IRS employees who make audit threats for illegitimate reasons. He suggested that Mr. Obama’s “joke” might be grounds for firing if he were an IRS employee.

He’s not, of course, but as the president his words carry much more weight and he should be much more careful. That’s particularly true given that people still haven’t forgotten about the Obama administration’s other tax issues – the appointment of Tim Geithner as Treasury secretary despite an inexcusable failure to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes while working for the International Monetary Fund, and the scandals involving Tom Daschle and others whose appointments failed. (When the Geithner issue came up, news reports indicated that IRS employees were very upset. They can be fired over a simple late filing or a failure to report a mere $500 in income, making Mr. Geithner’s “pass” on much more serious questions quite demoralizing.)

The notion that people who are audited are probably just “enemies of the regime,” coupled with the idea that big shots get a pass – that, as Leona Helmsley is reputed to have said, “taxes are for the little people” – is a recipe for widespread tax evasion. That’s how things work in Italy, and in many other countries around the world. But do we want things to work that way here?

Mr. Obama has been accused of not appreciating the importance of financial capital to the proper functioning of the economy. But ill-chosen remarks like his ASU audit threat suggest that he also doesn’t appreciate the role of moral capital. That, too, is essential to the proper functioning of a modern economy. As he looks for ways to pay for the spending campaign he’s already embarked upon, he’d be well-advised to avoid comments that undercut the very tax system he’ll be depending on.

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