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. FrmrMrine

    That's right, Doug Schulman was a Bush appointee, but it's all a Liberal plot. The IRS unit that conducted the abuse was set up in 2003 under George Bush, but it's all a Liberal plot. John Boehner, as speaker of the house the senior member of congress charged with oversight on the IRS failed to discover these abuses from 2003 to 2009 and only 'discovered' them when Obama was inaugurated, but it's all a Liberal plot. The Justice Department, under Obama, was the agency that investigated and uncovered the abuses, but it's all a Liberal plot.

    June 1, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. Anonymous

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

    Who? Which of these groups had their tax-free status withheld and not just endured extra scrutiny?

    Any?

    June 1, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    The IRS should come clean. 88 workers were in this mess. That does not happen unless instructed by senior management which in turn does not happen unles instructed by the white house. 157 visits to the white house by the IRS chief says it all. Government ran amuck with no conscience. Bold and brazen and no doubt corrupt to the core. Successfully destroying America from within.

    June 1, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. JB

    I love how some of the people on this board are like the IRS should target every group. The question here is whether the IRS was providing extra scrutiny toward some applications? The answer is a resounding yes!

    June 1, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Diana

    ALL non profits have a political agenda. I work as a volunteer for non-profit and have done so for years and years. However, even though the tax break is nice – I feel that NO GROUP should be tax exempt. No one. The tax code is just too complicated and easy to manipulate. I feel even donations should not be tax exempt on our tax returns. This would get rid of the grey areas.

    June 1, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. don in albuquerque

    @A True Conservative--Nope, don't see a problem here that has not been going on for decades on both sides. Are you paying attention? Conservatives no longer get to wear a white hat and ride off into the sunset. However, they can keep the mask-seems to fit them. Fix the law if you want it fixed. Or is it more fun complain about it. That appears too be the case.

    June 1, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. lottie

    some scandal repos have been doing this for years . who complained when the IRS was targeting liberal churches.? No one. Repos are just stirring the pot. I would look at these groups too. They say they are non profit while the funnel money into campaigns. Gosh maybe repos did this.

    June 1, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  8. mark hensley

    Yet not a peep from Republicans about the Conflct of interets of Judge Clarence Thomas, and his ties to Tea Party and right wing Koch Brothers.

    June 1, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. tony

    I wish the GOP would help run the country back to the wealthy state where it was in Clinton's time.

    Who needs tax cuts when your income is growing 10 times faster than your taxes. Now it's only the rich who taxes are dropping ten times faster than their stocks are rising

    June 1, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. Scott

    Where is the List of Liberal Words used to filter out applications seeking Non-Profit status?

    If this is NOT Politically motivated, there should be an equal number of Key Words used for sorting for each ideology.

    Has anyone seen any Non-Conservative words that were used?

    June 1, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  11. Maddog2020

    Yet they say there is nothing to this.

    June 1, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  12. VEW2012

    Douglas Schulman IRS Commissioner was appointed by George W. Bush on March 14, 2008 and served from March 24, 2008 until November 11, 2012 five days after the last presidential election. As I see it this was a Bush appointee, and if congress would quit sitting on the president appointing his own people President Bush's appointee may not have been Commissioner through the last election cycle.

    However I congratulate Mr Schulman for his due dilligence...it is about time we look at these groups that label themselves as tea party, conservative action, or progressive, or Citizens United....campaign fund raising should not be given a non-profit status.

    It is my understanding that both right-wing teaparty and left-leaning progressive groups were being given extra review to make sure they were not raising campaign funds while claiming to be a non-profit educational group. Something that is clearly illegal. My understanding is that the only group application actually denied 501 c 4 status by the IRS was filed by the Maine chapter of "Emerge America", an organization that trains Democratic women to run for office. So it looks like a democratic leaning group was the only group denied tax exempt status...and the groups screaming the loudest is ...you guessed it folks ...those idiot tea party ultra-right wing conservatives.

    HELLO! This is just another ultra-right GOP witch-hunt used as another lame excuse to not get anything constructive done.

    June 1, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  13. Mo

    I don't believe most democrats are in denial that our President needs to be watched closely , any more or less than we should all be watching any body in that position of power, which can be so easily abused. The folks that post their denial of wrongdoing just can't admit the facts for what ever reason they justify their blind obedience to Mr. Obama.

    June 1, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. TransitDave

    This guy Shulman was appointed by GW Bush, so of course that means that he cannot possibly have any left-wing bias, even of he has a left wing wife...............In other news, the bidding for the Brooklyn Bridge is over $100,000,000 and counting.........

    June 1, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. tullymd

    Distracts us from the fact that evil Wall Street banksters escaped trial secondary to inaction of the duplicitous Obama administration and soon to be has been Holder.

    June 1, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Bill Davis

    So based on Brietbart report its safe to say Clarence Thomas targets liberal groups and causes from the bench because his wife is a Tea Tard?

    June 1, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  17. Jtom

    Ok, if speaking out against taxes marks one as a likely tax cheat worthy of being audited by the IRS, then clearly we should apply this logic to other areas. If you speak out against the government's drug policy, that marks you as a likely drug user, and a search warrant should be issued for your property to look for illegal drugs.

    See where that 'logic' gets you? If you don't speak out now because conservative groups are your political adversaries, don't expect support from anyone when the tables are turned.

    June 1, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. Ed

    I love the liberal line that says, "well, the other guys did it too" Great defense guys

    June 1, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  19. nanonano

    This continuing campaign to make a mountain out of a molehill will continue until some new shiny tidbit surfaces to attract the attention of those hateful racists who are convinced that Obama is the antichrist.

    June 1, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  20. Frank

    This is essentially Treason by our Republican law makers. This is about as Anti-American as possible. Lets corrupt the system and make it law... because Americans are an ignorant bunch (at least most of them are) and they will accept it, all in the name of obstructionism.

    June 1, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. Complete ignorance

    Right-wing Nuts there's no steam in this story anymore – move on.

    June 1, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  22. CSM

    The tea party is a branch of corporate minions. I have no problem with their activities being scrutinized whatsoever.

    June 1, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  23. Orygun Duck

    Conservatives don't believe in paying taxes. It is part of their platform. Makes sense to look at their books.

    June 1, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  24. Margaret

    Conservatives disenfranchised? I don't think so. Because of them in AZ anyone except the poll workers can wear campaign buttons, and tee shirts into the polls, the only thing you can't do is try and talk someone else into changing their vote. As far as I know no one stopped any tea party or conservative voter from voting. Should political party donations be tax exempt, personally I don't think so. If any of the groups tried to pass themselves off as some kind of charity they should be stopped. If only conservatives were targeted that would be wrong, all political parties who try and get around the tax laws should be held accountable. The tea party was looking very strange and a lot of people did not think they were a legitimate political party when they first started. Make the rules clear and lets get over it.

    June 1, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. chattyKathy

    Its OK for IRS to target, deny & punish conservatives, Christian groups and Catholics today! (OH! Wait a minute!!... Can the IRS come after US another day????) If so–NOT FAIR!

    June 1, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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