IRS tea party scandal unlikely to fade a

May 13 [Mon], 2013, 2:37
Conspiracy theories aside, theres no evidence that thehad anything to do withbureaucrats targeting tea party-type organizations for special tax scrutiny.

Thats despite new information that senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting such groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general's report obtained by thethat seems to contradict public statements by the IRS commissioner.

Still, as Time political columnistwrites this weekend, the absence of scandal is not the presence of competence.

Yet again, we have an example ofsimply not managing the government properly and with discipline, Klein writes. This is just poisonous at a time of skepticism about the efficacy of government. [Obamas] unwillingness to concentrate and I mean concentrate obsessively on making sure that government is managed efficiently will be part of his legacy.

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So far, theresponse seems a bit anemic, a bit hands-off. On Saturday, press secretarysaid the President believes government agencies should be staffed with "the very best public servants with the highest levels of integrity.

The President is concerned that the conduct of a small number of Internal Revenue Service employees may have fallen short of that standard, Carney said.

Given whats been revealed in the inspector generals report, such statements likely will not quell the criticism.

It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review, USofsaid on s State of the Union Sunday.

The president needs to make crystal clear that this is totally unacceptable in , she said. I think that it's very disappointing that the president hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out.

As first reported by the AP, in June, 2011, Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups with "Tea Party," ''Patriot" or "9/12 Project" in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny.

The following January, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, "political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and , social economic reform/movement," the IGs report says.

About 300 applications were initially flagged for closer scrutiny, 75 of which were chosen based on names including those key words. In the end, according to the IRS, none were denied the tax-exempt status they had applied for, although some withdrew their applications.

Each year the IRS reviews as many as 60,000 tax-exempt applications from groups ranging from charities to labor unions, reports .

Such organizations can collect money from anonymous donors and spend it on advertising. But in order to get and keep their tax-exempt status, they cant endorse a political candidate or a political party. Coinciding in part with the surge of Tea Party enthusiasm, the number of groups seeking tax-exempt status more than doubled from 2010 to 2012, to more than 3,400.

But despite the increased workload and the apparent effort to identify groups whose political activities crossed the tax-exempt line, focusing on tea party and patriot was bound to create a partisan firestorm.

Now, groups across the political spectrum suspect that they too might have been picked for special IRS scrutiny. BuzzFeed reports that one hawkishly pro- group believes that it was targeted by the IRS over its opposition to President Obamas Israel policy.

promise a series of investigative hearings.

While Im glad that the IRS has apologized for this misconduct, that is simply not enough, USofsaid Saturday. We need to know more. We need to know who was behind this unlawful activity, when it began, who found out about it, when they found out, and what they did or did not do to correct it.

As Lauren French and Kelsey Snell ofwrite, the IRS doesnt have many friends on a good day, and now it seems to be an agency under siege, facing its worst public relations debacle in years.

That lack of friends in Congress is bipartisan.

We shouldnt rush to judgment, says(D) of . But targeting groups based solely on their political views is not only inappropriate, it is intolerable.

The IRS inspector generals full report is scheduled to be released this coming week.

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IRS apologizes for singling out conservative groups: How did it happen? Should charities still be tax-exempt?

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