Conservative sites tie IRS controversy to liberal group
Doug Shulman, the former IRS commissioner.
June 1st, 2013
12:49 PM ET
2 years ago

Conservative sites tie IRS controversy to liberal group

(CNN) - The controversy over IRS targeting of conservative groups took a new turn this weekend when right-leaning websites drew a connection between the agency's former head and his wife's employment at a liberal group.

The conservative website Breitbart posted that "the goal of Public Campaign is to target political groups like the conservative non-profits at issue in the IRS scandal," naming the campaign finance reform group where Doug Shulman's wife, Susan Anderson, is the senior program adviser.

Public Campaign spokesman Adam Smith said the Breitbart description "is not at all accurate."

Shulman led the IRS during the period from 2010 to 2012 when the agency subjected non-profit application from "tea party" and "patriot" groups to increased scrutiny. Shulman said he was not personally responsible for the practice, which an agency official acknowledged shortly before an inspector general report would have disclosed it, and his successor apologized to a congressional committee for agents' "foolish mistakes."

He left the IRS in November 2012 and said at a congressional hearing earlier that year, "there is absolutely no targeting" of conservative groups for political reasons. Last month, agency officials described the practice as a method of filtering applications which poured in following the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision on campaign spending.

Conservative websites pointed late Friday to a statement Public Campaign released after news of the targeting broke.

"There are legitimate questions to be asked about political groups that are hiding behind a 501(c)4 status," Public Campaign President and CEO Nick Nyhart told ABC News. "It's unfortunate a few bad apples at the IRS will make it harder for those questions to be asked without claims of bias."

The Daily Caller said that statement "belittled the concerns of disenfranchised conservatives."

Smith, the Public Campaign spokesman, said the group's statement was an immediate reaction to the IRS and pointed CNN to a longer Nyhart statement, which welcomed congressional investigation.

The revised statement said the IRS must be non-partisan and that "there are legitimate questions to be asked about political organizations posing as social welfare groups."

On Saturday, he rebuked the conservative postings, writing, "Public Campaign and its employees have worked passionately and tirelessly for 15 years to raise the voices of everyday Americans of every political stripe in our democracy. When the controversy involving the IRS emerged recently, we condemned the selective targeting of groups based on ideological considerations. To suggest otherwise is a gross mistreatment of the facts."

Asked by CNN, Smith had no reaction to report from Anderson. Shulman was not immediately available for comment.


Filed under: IRS
soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. caeser

    Extremist groups love to hide behind patriotic terminology in a effort to appear legit.

    June 2, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. Just a thought

    The true scandal which these GOP/Tea a Tards want swept under the rug is .....the breaking of our federal government under the last failed GOP presidency....you remember, lil dubya and darth cheney – right??? Of course these greedy nincompoops were oh to pleased to send off some poor persons child to a war that didn't need to be fought and worse than that...THEY WEREN"T ever WILLING TO PAY FOR. These are those people that go out for happy hour and leave before the bill is paid and leave nothing for all they've recieved. Yeah, those guys

    June 2, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. Anonymous

    Of course it seems many of these groups are using 501(c)4 status as cover for their political agendas, The controversy isn't whether or not the conservative groups should be investigated, it's that ONLY conservative groups were audited. they were TARGETED. Imagine if the IRS only targeted groups that had the words AFRICAN AMERICAN in them. This is profiling and a blatant attempt to bring down the tea party with selective enforcement by the government. The left is desperately trying to spin the story away from this–good luck

    June 2, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  4. Mary Ann

    The IRS was doing their job.The teaparty should pay taxes.We would be a whole lot better off if churches paid taxes.

    June 2, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  5. Mike Salmusin

    Just goes to show you Liberals in power can NOT be trusted with governing the country. They lead in a manner that is too ideological where the body count does not matter as long as their goal are met. JFK would not be elected in today's Democrat Party...he would be considered too right wing.

    June 2, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  6. Wayne

    The whole thing is really overblown. A group with a political party in its name complains that someone thinks they are primarily a politic organization, and the press goes wild. A couple of things to think about: 1. Isn't claiming to be social group when you are a political group just to gain a favorable tax status some kind of fraud? 2. Is no one else worried that both parties are so concerned that they may have to reveal who actually funds their campaigns (who they really represent) ?

    June 2, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  7. Truck

    Drip,drip,drip,drip & sooner or later it will all rain down on Obama,because the buck stops there. Watergate to the nth degree......

    June 2, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. Martin

    We all need to be wary of an IRS out of control. More than any other Government agency, the IRS has the power to ruin lives. The questions asked of the applicants – for example: ""What are your members Praying for" are absurd. Now, with their control of O Care, will your political registration perhaps nix your hip replacement?

    June 2, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  9. Tom1940

    And the plot thickens!!!!

    June 2, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  10. lloyd vance

    The Republican House committee has full oversight of the IRS. THEY control it. Then do something and fix this. The IRS keeps all the money from penalties and fines for itself. It has repeatedly refused any attempts at an audit. Fix this Republicans!

    June 2, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. El Flaco

    IRS was looking too closely at the Republican money laundering machine. IRS started to ask who the donors are, and that's when Conservatives flipped out. There is a lot of foreign money going to Republican candidates from foreign corporations and foreign governments, especially from Communist China.

    These groups need much closer scrutiny. The Republicans are screaming too loud. They are hiding something.

    June 2, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. Feast of Pikes

    A cowardly Congress simply wasting more time. The strategy is simple. Get elected and do nothing. There is no record to run against.

    If Congress had written a clear, enforceable law in the first place, 99% of these shadowy political action groups wouldn't exist to begin with.

    June 2, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  13. Jen L

    Yeah, poor conservatives. So singled out.

    Oh, except that liberal groups were also targeted, all of the targeting is pretty reasonable (obvious political groups pretending to not be political), the only impediment was additional paperwork, and only liberal groups got denied.

    But sure, let's take highly disputed information as fact when it was presented only by a website dedicated to a man who admitted that he lied in order to promote the conservative agenda. Yes, I honestly do see a pattern and a problem.

    It's called lies and double standards.

    June 2, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  14. Jane

    Conservatives take off your blinders!

    June 2, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. Will

    Of course there is corruption and misuse of government here. But, to be fair, Bush would have done the same thing if he had been smart enough to think of it.

    June 2, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  16. Alina77

    Who cares?

    June 2, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. BeverlyNC

    Breitbart is the source??? Then why is this story even published? He is a joke and known Republican conspiracy creator!
    I wish Republicans would do their job – like passing legislation to help the economy grow, create jobs, and help extend our social programs while the economy is still recovering.
    All Republicans have done in waste 6 years trying to create fake scandals about President Obama, spreading hate and fear, and completely ignoring and betraying the PEOPLE they were elected to serve.
    No More Republicans come 2014 mid-term elections. It is time to put serious public servants into office to work for us and not for bringing down our legislative process by constant conspiracy and witch hunts. Republicans = McCarthyism

    June 2, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  18. Unreal

    Conservative nirvana consists of:

    No government
    No Regulation
    Minimal Laws
    "freedom" which will turn into anarchy just buy the sheet nature of what they want
    Everyone having multiple weapons
    and a Church on every street corner

    Sounds an awful lot like a mix between the wild west and what is going on in the middle east.

    No thank you.

    June 2, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. buccakenji

    Only one problem "Just a thought". Congress approved the Iraq war. Congress didn't have to do that, but it did.

    June 2, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  20. buccakenji

    A new development for "Just a thought". The premise for the Iraq war was WMDs. Son of a gun, what is reported today on CNN.

    Baghdad (CNN) - Iraqi troops raided a suspected terror cell of five people who specialize in making chemical compounds for sarin, mustard and nerve gases, the defense ministry said Saturday. The suspected terror cell was broken by military intelligence forces after three months of surveillance, the ministry said.

    SORTA GIVES YOU THE IMPRESSION THAT WMDs WERE AROUND WHEN "barack" HUSSEIN "obama" WAS AROUND.
    One of the five people made a "confession" stating the cell was planning to use the chemicals agents in Iraq and other countries, the ministry said. Iraqi security forces raided two factories - in Baghdad and in an unspecified province - and confiscated materials used to manufacture chemical weapons, officials said.

    June 2, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  21. AquaStar

    Of course there is a link between what this liberal group's focus was and what happened at the IRS. The Obama administration and prominent Democrats have been publicly and outspokenly advocating for investigating these groups for years.

    88 IRS individuals so far are now under investigation with hundreds more in other offices to be added. This scandal is about the Democrats calling for these people to be targeted and then the deed being done. Now it's a question of how high up it goes and how it was implemented and by whom.

    This is a direct result of a culture of intimidation going on within the Democrat party against their "enemies" and then using agencies (remember there are indications other agencies were used besides the IRS....more on than in the future) to carry out it out.

    This is why this story is so dangerous for the whole party and why the apologists who try to claim it's just a few "rogue" agents or the Tea Party deserved it because they are an anti-tax group who somehow don't pay taxes are just red herrings.

    Any Democrat who condones this behavior is not going to get any sympathy from thinking voters who know that siccing an agency like the IRS on citizens who they don't like politically is a dangerous precedent that could come back to backfire on them in a time when they are in the political minority.

    It is and was an abuse of power and should be thoroughly investigated and rooted out so that it doesn't happen again.
    Unfortunately I think the partisans on the Left have burrowed so deep into the bowels of the government that it is going to take a massive effort to root them out.

    I'm not sure if the country has the stomach to dig deeper into the corruption or just shrug it off as business as usual (which is what the Democrats are hoping).

    Whichever way this goes it could have massive ramifications for our political system.

    June 2, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. EdwardTr

    They are guilty of profiling, period. I think the IRS would have done this to liberal groups if those could be profiled as easily. Also most likely those groups that "technically" passed the criteria of non profit were in fact doing political activism and not social good. Did goes for the fake liberal groups doing "social good" and not political activism.

    What we need is to redefine the non profit activity.

    June 2, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. JJ

    There's NO escape from this one......................
    It's getting worse and worse.
    No surprises here with this administration.

    June 2, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. billythebigbone

    GOP is on a witch hunt – must be election time?

    June 2, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  25. Jim

    What liberals don't get is that if the IRS is targeting conservatives, they can target anyone. If they had targeted liberal groups, you'd all be in the streets with torches and pitchforks. If you're going after on group for taxes, take on everyone.

    June 2, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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