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

    "Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread."
    - Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821

    June 2, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Yancy

    The idea that the IRS is doing some shady things...I mean really people. This has been going on there for decades!

    And if anyone thinks this has to do with the president or his administration, they have been drinking to much of the Kool-Aid. Bottom line is, had Obama been a republican, we would be hearing about how he is the best economic president of the last 40-50 years and someone who rivals Reagen.

    June 2, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. Tappy Mcwidestance

    "The conservative website Breitbart posted that..."

    You can stop reading right there is you care about facts and the truth. The scandal is that many 501C4 organizations (85% conservative and 15% liberal) are using their status as "social welfare organizations" to hid the names of their donors for their political activities. The LAW (remember when you were the law and order party Republicans) says a 501C4 must be "exclusively" a social welfare organization to be tax exempt. In the 1950s the IRS regulation was changed (not the law mind you) to be "primarily" a social welfare organization. This change along with the Citizen's United ruling has opened the floodgates to anonymous bribery of our legislative process. So the Tea Party has its panties in a bunch because someone is looking at their applications with more scrutiny when they are BREAKING THE LAW. My heart bleeds for them. Of course they didn't complain when the IRS was looking at progressive groups during the Bush Administration. It's only a "scandal" because it happened during the Obama Administration.

    My question to Republicans is why should you support breaking the law? Not a single one of your political front groups was denied their tax exempt status even though they clearly lied (committed fraud) on their applications about being social welfare organizations. When a Republican eventually becomes President again and more progressive opposition groups are formed will you be against any of them being investigated? Or as usual will you complain that they shouldn't be tax exempt because they are political instead of social welfare groups?

    June 2, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. iceload9

    Is this any different than justice Thomas' wife being a PAC employee. Of course these organizations hire connected people. They do it cause it works but it is corrupt.

    June 2, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  5. TH001

    Time to get rit of the IRS and the tax code, and replace it with something more simple that does not open itself to this much abuse.

    June 2, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  6. Wally Lind

    The point is that they weren't looking at liberal groups with the same frequency and intensity, and the flip remarks of the former director didn't help either. I don't see why these groups should be tax exempt, if they don't meet the tax code criteria, but if they do, this harassment is Nixonian. Apart from all this being a distraction from what Obama and Clinton did and din't do, during the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, I don't see it as a major deal. Perhaps it shows that the IRS isn't the proper agency to work with ObamaCare. I don't know.

    June 2, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Wally Lind

    The guy even looks like he is right out of Watergate. A little hair dye and he could be John Dean. LOL Those guys were a bunch of clowns, and so are these.

    June 2, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  8. Republiker

    Shulman is more proof when you vote for the Democrat Freeloader Party, we ALL lose.

    June 2, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  9. Donkey Party

    Funny how you right-wing filth use words like "Truth" and "Facts" in your screen names, when in fact there is no truth or facts in anything you say.

    June 2, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. Wayne

    What seems to be lost in the "outrage" is that the IRS investigations did nothing to limit these organizations ability to operate. They could still do what they were doing while the applications were pending. Also, they could have declared themselves tax-exempt without any approval from the IRS. The specific right they applied for (501(c)3 vs 501(c)4) is to hide the sources of their donations. Why is this so important to a group supposedly dedicated to the good of the country?

    June 2, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  11. Mountains Nurse

    Cannot ever remember when there was such distaste for an administration in the WH. This guy, his cabinet, and all the power he wields will eventually be, and this is the beginning, found out, charged, and hung out to dry-impeachment should now be on the table according to Alan West. When has anyone, anyone brought such disgrace to the office and surrounding departments as the mighty one? The Benghazi slaughter was not the beginning – his election was – but we lost precious lives. Where were we to help those who were murdered when they needed us? Nowhere to be found; and, then the lousy cover up that followed-nothing but lies...then the election-what a dirty campaign, filled with such filth I could barely contain myself listening to all the mud slinging wondering why this country had resorted to garbage instead of issues.
    Now we all know DC is filled with crooks, those who are supposedly employed by us, the people, something they have long forgotten; however, the IRS scandal tops it all. They, the biggest bunch of crooks, have the most power and soon will control the health care law. God help us is all we say around here. We are so astounded, profoundly scared we are now thinking of abandoning our country to find a place of comfort to dwell. Why, since we have lived in OUR country, from generations before us, do we even have to consider leaving? It is a crime to even consider; yet, we know the path this once great USA has now taken-governmental control; loss of our rights and freedoms; health care we did NOT want and do NOT need controlled by DC; and rising taxes and fees putting us in line for assistance which is what they want. I abhor what they, the WH, has done, and all in the name of socialism. It makes me shudder for the generations to come or will they? There are those who will disagree and you have that right; yet, facts present truth and this writer is abundantly clear on one thing: this country cannot and will not succeed going down the path of destruction it is presently on and I mourn the loss of our once free USA.

    June 2, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  12. Anonymous

    After reading many of the posts, I am beginning to understand how tyranny is formed. The excuse for immoral and unethical action by a government agency is that the victims are evil. It's the old "the end justify the means" game. Too many on the left now believe in controlling speech to achieve their goals... The world is truly upside down.

    June 2, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. Baruch

    Those on the right seem to have no problem with Clarence Thomas' loyalty to Monsanto and his wife's job with a right wing organization. Such hypocrisy. Clean your own house GOP.

    June 2, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. noly972

    I'm an Independent. I used to be a GOPer until they lost their way. If I had been working in that IRS office and had a flood of tax-free applications show up named after a political party that is anti-tax, I would have thought fraud as a first reaction. The fact that they were questioned at all is good. The fact that none of them were turned down is unacceptable.

    Also, who appointed the IRS commissioner under whom all of this transpired? The very same IRS commissioner who is a member of the GOP.... I'm also reminded that that same person testified before congress that none of this was going on – nobody was being targeted for anything. I think that he should be the one being investigated for misinforming/lying to congress. Isn't he responsible for what happens in the IRS that he's running? Or does his responsibility automatically get shifted to the closest Liberal?

    I'm disgusted.

    June 2, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. ge

    tax them all no matter which party

    June 2, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  16. Devan

    Time for a taxpayer strike. Not one more dime should be sent to the far left IRS until an objective alternative is established. And we should immediately start a state by state move to repeal the 16th Amendment and replace it with the FAIR tax. Enough is enough!

    June 2, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. gthog61

    Gee, the head of the IRS when it was attacking conservative groups has a wife who is a big player in some far left-wing group that "targets" the very groups the IRS was attacking, but oh no, there's no connection whatsoever.

    Let the precedent be set, and when there's a Republican in the White House let's have the same damn thing happen.

    June 2, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. Brenda

    Conservatives, evangelicals and red necks must be silenced and interned.

    June 2, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Ray E. (Georgia)

    This is a battle of the brains. The Liberal's want to do great things. Tje only probem is they want to do it with other people's money.
    -----------------
    Do it with other people's money? How can someone who wants to pay no taxes even make that accusation, yet you want an army, a navy, an air force, special ops forces, and too many other things that YOU WANT GOVERNMENT to do? The right wing hypocrisy is outstanding.

    June 2, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain

    @IvotedforObama: "I consider lying and sending 4500 Americans to their deaths far worse than some people who we all know are political groups and not social ones trying to get tax exempt status."

    Ah, but the GOP doesn't, because Bush's lie lead to huge profits for the military industrial complex, including companies like Haliburton, who's billions of dollars got us electrocuted soldiers.

    June 2, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Rachel

    I like how CNN calls these stories "controversies" instead of scandals. They still gotta tow that line for their boy Obama.

    June 2, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  22. ratherbboating

    Tappy Mcwidestance you need to read the law about what it says.
    And where did you come up with your facts 85 -15 of the groups hid the names of their donors for their political activities.? Something from MSNBC or Al Jazeere? Seen this before and no facts behind what you are trying to say.
    And to hide the name of political donors, read what the Supreme Court had to say on super pacs. Oh, oh oh, surprise surprise surprise. They don't have to name their donors.
    So much for your "facts".

    June 2, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  23. tomfollery

    This OBOMA not only has the spending ways of the mob, but acts as a mob boss at all levels. This guy is a disgrace to the presidency in every direction he turns. The other black dude that ran for president this past election would have been a lot better pick for a black person to represent this country for the second term that Obama won, since the country was determined to have a black as president based only on his color. Should have been the old black dude that everyone made a joke out of because of his many affairs...to heck with the affairs...just a good man as a president and that is not Obama!

    June 2, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  24. becky

    Now the GOP is getting rather silly. Many members of Congress have spouses that work for groups that may be Conservative or Liberal. Justice Thomas's wife ran a Conservative GRoup and may still do so. Sen. McConnell's wife was Secretary of Transportation while he was a Senator. Bob Dole's wife had important jobs while he was in the Senate. Even though they called Kansas home she ran for the Senate from NC.

    Dick Cheney's favorite company and former employer, Haliburton received government contracts without any bidding.

    There are so many real issues facing this country and we need to get Congress to deal with them.

    June 2, 2013 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  25. pjean

    Why the "ends have justified the means", as Saul Alinsky would say. Obama may have won because voters who oppose his policies, were denied the right to organize just as their liberals counterparts could organize. Restrictions imposed upon conservatives to create a greater ablility to come together was the ultimate goal of the Left. Wrong is wrong is wrong.

    But Obama won, so who cares. RIght? Wrong.

    June 2, 2013 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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