May 13th, 2013
10:56 AM ET
1 year ago

Outrage at conservative targeting by IRS

(CNN) – The admitted targeting of conservative groups applying for tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service prompted more calls for tough consequences and a congressional investigation Monday.

Even Democrats voiced concern at the IRS' actions, including Sen. Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

“These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust. Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable," Baucus wrote in a statement, adding the agency "should be prepared for a full investigation into this matter" by his Senate panel.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, demanded the resignation of the IRS commissioner in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday, noting the agency "cannot operate with even a shred of the American people's confidence under the current leadership."

"If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he continued, adding that a mere apology wouldn't go far enough regaining the American people's trust.

The current acting commissioner of the IRS is Steven Miller, who assumed the role in November 2012. The previous commissioner, Douglas Shulman, was appointed by President George W. Bush. Shulman testified at a March 2012 congressional hearing that his agency did not target conservative groups for political reasons.

Keli Carender, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, listed a spate of questions for the tax agency and President Barack Obama during an appearance on CNN's "Starting Point."

"We need to know how did this start? Who started it? Who knew what? And when did they know it? How far up does this go? Does it go up all the way into Treasury? Does it go up into the administration? Who is a part of this? How are these decisions made? And, and what is going to happen to the people that did it?"

Her list has been echoed by Republicans and activists in light of the IRS' admission on Friday they used the words "tea party" and "patriot" to screen tax-exempt applications, applying extra scrutiny to those groups that included requests for pages upon pages of documentation.

A congressional investigation would probe who knew what and when, Rep. Darrell Issa told CNN Sunday. Issa is the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight.

"The fact is if you're doing something and it's wrong, it's illegal, it's the kind of thing that scares the American people to their core, when Americans are being targeted for audits based on their political beliefs, that needs to change," he said.

Sen. Carl Levin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate committee responsible for investigations, said on Friday the IRS actions require a government probe.

The IRS says there was no political motivation in their scheme, which was established after a flood of applications for 501(c)(4) status after the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010.

But Republicans say any bias toward groups based on their political ideology is an unacceptable breach of the public trust.

"It contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government. It is absolutely chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said on Sunday's "State on the Union" on CNN.

She and other Republicans are calling for a public condemnation of the IRS' actions by President Barack Obama, who has yet to speak publically about the agency's admission.

"I think that it's very disappointing that the president hasn't personally condemned this and spoken out," Collins told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Saturday the president believes the government should be staffed with "the very best public servants with the highest levels of integrity" and that "based on recent media reports, (the president) is concerned that the conduct of a small number of Internal Revenue Service employees may have fallen short of that standard."

Rep. Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, called for a full investigation of the IRS' practices, something Republicans and Democrats have said is necessary after learning of the conservative targeting.

"I don't care if you're a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this should send a chill up your spine," Rogers said on "Fox News Sunday."


Filed under: IRS • Marco Rubio • Tea Party
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    The Tea Party "Patriots" don't want to pay their taxes? How patriotic of them!!!!!

    May 13, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  2. Data Driven

    Kind of a repeat of the story just below, but whatever.

    May 13, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    They all got approvals in a timely fashion. Why? Because someone at the IRS filtered the applications, which moved them to the head of the line. And now they're complaining about speedy approvals. There would be a legitimate complaint if they were not approved or excessively delayed, but they weren't. They were moved to the head of the line and approved.

    May 13, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Warren

    What the IRS did should be the norm for anyone requesting tax exempt status.....

    May 13, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  5. freedom

    Obamacare will be implemented by the IRS – so that would mean conservatives will be targeted to not receive the health treatments they need? What is this – the Hitler state? Eliminate those who don't fit your agenda – literally? In an effort ot divert the Benghazi horrors, Obama has now unleashed a whole new ugly light on himself and his devious and destructive agenda. This man hates America.

    May 13, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  6. rs

    Warren

    What the IRS did should be the norm for anyone requesting tax exempt status.....
    __________________
    Agreed- especially when the applicants are anti-tax mavens...

    May 13, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    Oh cry me a river! Some of these churches shouldn't get tax exempt status.

    May 13, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. bystander

    Wow. All kinds of profiling is done by the IRS day in and day out, in order to select individuals for audits. Anyone who thinks that it's all based simply on numbers on filed tax returns is (really) naive. So the IRS does the same thing for political organizations that are claiming tax-exempt status. big deal.

    May 13, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. ghostriter

    The current acting commissioner of the IRS is Steven Miller, who assumed the role in November 2012. The previous commissioner, Douglas Shulman, was appointed by President George W. Bush. Shulman testified at a March 2012 congressional hearing that his agency did not target conservative groups for political reasons.

    Another Bush left over. I wouldn't be surprised if conservatives put him up to this to have something to blame on Obama.

    Hey, why should the tea bags be the only ones who can make up conspiracy theories?

    May 13, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  10. Bill

    These groups should be targeted. They hide behind their 501(c)(3) status and thumb their noses at everyone. You bet some of these groups are engaging in prohibited political activity.

    May 13, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    Why is anyone defending this? Regardless of how or why it happened, its unacceptable. We all know the Right has used the IRS to go after liberal groups in the past, something the Right is conveneiently forgetting, but its no excuse for the Left to defend it simply because the groups mentioned are groups we disagree with. Plain and simple, it looks bad.

    May 13, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Plain and simple, it looks bad.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Yes, yes it does but on the other hand I'm enjoying the IRS' unpremeditated attempt at balancing the exchange of "blows".
    Hell, even if it was premeditated, I'm enjoying it.
    Sue me.
    Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!

    May 13, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  13. Thomas

    Dick Armey left the deep-pocketed tea party group he helped build over a clash with a top lieutenant who Armey and others in the organization believed was using the group’s resources to pad his pockets, POLITICO has learned.

    Armey received an $8 million buyout to step down as chairman of FreedomWorks at the end of last month, but the dispute between him and the group’s president, Matt Kibbe, is still straining the organization.

    The IRS is doing there job , political non profits both conservative and liberal laundering money for years.

    Look up Sarah Palin's political action non profit , follow the money .

    May 13, 2013 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Ray E. (Georgia)

    It may be time to return a lot of things to the States, including the collection and disbursing of most taxes. A more Conservative viewpoint to be sure. Unfortuntanly the Country has gone to the left over te last 80 Plus years.

    May 13, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  15. rs

    freedom

    Obamacare will be implemented by the IRS – so that would mean conservatives will be targeted to not receive the health treatments they need? What is this – the Hitler state?
    ________________
    No, just more Right-wing propaganda and paranoia. You do get the "most-creative" use of Hiltler in a blog post today however.

    May 13, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  16. PaulCat

    I feel so sorry for Rubio, he's trying very hard to make a name for himself.
    Maybe he should just resign now before he make a complete fool of himself.
    Then again, the more they talk, the more we say: ""HILLARY 2016""

    May 13, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  17. Bill from GA

    "targeting ... prompted more calls for tough consequences and a congressional investigation"

    Gee, I guess more than a dozen killed by an explosion in West, Texas, at a plant whose owners lied to the government, and the idea that there are maybe hundreds of un-regulated factories in our cities and towns around the country just as dangerous; that doesn't really bother the republican leaders who start these congressional investigations.

    After all, there is no embarrassment factor for the President (or a future Democrat President ) in those deaths.

    May 13, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "The current acting commissioner of the IRS is Steven Miller, who assumed the role in November 2012. The previous commissioner, Douglas Shulman, was appointed by President George W. Bush. Shulman testified at a March 2012 congressional hearing that his agency did not target conservative groups for political reasons."

    CNN is deliberately avoiding talking about the June 29, 2011 briefing at which staffers told the management of that division that they were using a standard of “statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.” That was objected to and they were told to stop. This means it started under Dubya appointee, not under the new "acting" director, which CNN seems to imply and obviously wants to be the conclusion people draw because it's more controversial that way.

    The standard changed on Jan. 15, 2012, to focus on “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movements." That standard applies ACROSS THE BOARD, from left to right. Plenty of left-leaning activist and 501(c)(4) groups talk about labor or abortion or other rights and issues in those terms.

    In May 2012, the standard was again updated to focus on “organizations with indicators of significant amounts of political campaign intervention (raising questions as to exempt purpose and/or excess private benefit.)." Again, this standard applies no matter whether left or right.

    May 13, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. Sniffit

    "What is this – the Hitler state"

    Argument lost. Thanks for playing.

    May 13, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  20. Cephus

    Scandals after scandals this was bound to happen when you entrust huge responsibilities to petty minded far left liberals. Mr. President get your biggest broom and swipe your house clean. Homeland security "letdown" IRS " letdown" and you still trust these women to do their jobs? I tell you what fire them and bring in more competent ladies who can get the job done.

    May 13, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  21. Explore

    I give the "IRS" an "A " rating.
    Keep up the good work.
    It doesn't matter if the republicans are crying. They're good at it.
    """"Hillary 2016"""""""

    May 13, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. Vince

    Are these people ever not "outraged" at something? The world has bigger problems.

    May 13, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. Larry L

    Ray E. (Georgia)

    It may be time to return a lot of things to the States, including the collection and disbursing of most taxes. A more Conservative viewpoint to be sure. Unfortuntanly the Country has gone to the left over te last 80 Plus years.
    ================================
    What on earth would make you trust the States to manage federal funds? In the last 80 years the federal govenment moved to support civil rights, developed the most powerful military in the history of the World, raised the standard of living for American workers, enforced environmental protection to prevent a myriad of chronic illnesses and cancers, and extended our life-spans by about 15 years. We developed Social Security and Medicare to help elderly people. If we'd remained under State's control we'd still have segregation, women would have no rights, our environment would be a sewer, old folks would live in poverty, and only the rich would have health-care. I suppose that describes the "conservative dream".

    May 13, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. California Gary

    And when the GOP is in power, groups like the NAACP get audited........where were all of these people screaming for blood now, back then? This is business as usual. By the way, if I'm an organization charged with collecting taxes......and a group that is openly "anti-tax" is applying for special tax exempt status......you bet I'm going to take a closer look at that one than I would for other groups. It would be dereliction of duty not to.

    May 13, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Rick McDaniel

    The real story here, is that the administration was obviously seeking to gather DATA on all those who OPPOSED the administration.

    Yet another indicator, of the DICTATOR aspect, of the subversive Democratic Party.

    May 13, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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