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. noteasilyswayed

    The Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision will prove to be one of the worst decisions ever made. The FBI should not have targeted any groups; however, lots of political groups are hiding behind the so called "non-profit" label to push their political agendas.

    June 1, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. shelby

    republicans got more scandals and witch hunts than Carter's got liver pills.

    June 1, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. The Left Wing

    All groups, conservative, liberal or other, that appear to have a political agenda should be investigated to see that they meet the legal requirements before being giving tax exempt status. The key is not limiting the investigations but rather expanding them to include liberal and others as well. Conservatives have gotten what the law requires. Liberal and other groups are overdue for the same treatment.

    June 1, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. Data Driven

    "Breitbart"

    LOL

    June 1, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. michael

    give me a rope!

    June 1, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Bill

    Conservative groups that had their applications delayed between 2010-2012: 500.
    Liberal groups that had their applications delayed between 2010-2012: 3.

    That says it all right there.

    June 1, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. Arun

    I guess these right wing nuts don't think its a scandal when a US Supreme Court justices wife is running a Tea Party Organization, or when the right side of the Supreme Court speaks at corporate retreats of companies that will be affected with laws they are reviewing!!

    June 1, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. sambell1

    breitbart "not at all accurate"-–what a shock!!!!

    June 1, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. RainCityLady

    You'd think liberal groups were never investigated to hear the wing nuts claims. In fact, they too have been investigated. However, I don't think there should be any 501C classifications for ANY of these groups, right or left wing. Do away with them all.

    June 1, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. John Smyth

    Shulman didn't discuss stuff with his wife either.

    They just live together.

    HAHAHAHA

    They also own a unicorn.

    June 1, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Aezel

    They fail to mention that Bush is the one who hired the guy.

    June 1, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. Miguel

    This isn't surprising. They've always been a devious bunch.

    June 1, 2013 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. josenopy

    Well if they want to compare stuff. supreme court justices clarence thomas wife is the head of the Tea Party and he goes to the Tea Party functions. Plus, the Boy Bush head of the IRS started the Tea Party probe.

    June 1, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. Apex301

    No matter how hard the Republicans whip that dead horse, it just won't pull the cart. There were as many keyname search terms for liberal groups as there were for the conservative ones. It just happened that a huge number of GOP groups all used the same name which was on that list, and thus got the extra workups.
    Only the right wing extremists believe it is a scandal at all, but the left is giving those paranoids the benefit of the doubt.
    This will NOT save the Republican party from its downward destruction due to its radicalism.

    You cannot base a party on taxes alone when most people are not affected at all by taxes going up or down a bit. You HAVE to consider all the issues and the GOP refuses to care about anyone who is not at least a millionaire.

    June 1, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. mark ducharme

    I knew it would not take much to find some libtards behind all this illegal activity. I'm sure the biggest of them all is well shielded though behind his "seargent shultz" defense.

    June 1, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. TKO

    The POINT is that ALL groups who claim to be non-profit should be looked at if they are involved in political activities. And the most egregious violators seem to be TeaParty groups, because, as they themselves have said, they don't think the IRS should force them to limit political activities. Right wingers, stop whining about this. Democrats? Stop apologizing!

    June 1, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. IRSgate

    IRS scandal is ballooning into an IRSGate with people at the top involved in targeting conservatives.

    June 1, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. RDA

    Several liberal organizations did get the same treatment, Left Wing. The only group to be denied tax-empt status during that particular period was Emerge America, an avowedly liberal group. NONE of the Tea Party groups who were scrutinized - rightfully so, as they are blatantly political organizations trying to pretend that they aren't - have claimed that they were denied tax-exampt status. Funny how the right-wingers don't seem to know that.

    June 1, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. TKO

    The point is that all groups who claim to be non-profit should be looked at if they are involved in political activities. And the most egregious violators seem to be TeaParty groups, because, as they themselves have said, they don't think the IRS should force them to limit political activities. Right wingers, stop whining about this. Democrats? Stop apologizing!

    June 1, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Fladabosco

    I am an avowed liberal. I want all the people involved with this prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    June 1, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Dgiz

    The IRS is out of control and has no right to target specific groups and or people. And as for one the the worst decisions well that would be electing this so called president that we have.

    June 1, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. Tom

    Liberal Democrats just don't get it. Combined federal, state, and local government spending consumes over 40% of America's GDP. Add in quasi government organizations and half of all America is government. Half !! When government is half of everything, there are no issues that are not political. What we need in America is less government.

    June 1, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Hogarth

    I personally see nothing wrong with targeting these groups, since they are political in nature and intent, and really don't fit the description of 501(c)4 organizations. While it would be unfair if the IRS was ONLY targeting teabaggers, if they were also looking for left-wing political groups trying to hide behind 501(c)4 statues, then fair is fair, and the teabaggers can stop whining.

    June 1, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. dude

    The IRS employees that targeted these groups still have their jobs. The whistle blower does not.

    June 1, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  25. TrumanTown

    The law says that these organizations need to be operated "exclusively" for social welfare purposes, but critics complain that the groups are being targeted because of their conservative political character. Well, duh! Every time they complain, they underscore the reason the law says they should receive extra scrutiny. If they have a conservative political purpose,they are not being operate exclusively for social welfare purposes.

    June 1, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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