Conservative sites tie IRS controversy to liberal group
Doug Shulman, the former IRS commissioner.
June 1st, 2013
12:49 PM ET
10 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.

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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. DJ Reality

    Boy, the republicans can't do anything to fix the countries ills. Not a darn thing! But they will spend the one or two days a week they work on witch hunts. America deserves better. Congress has to stop screwing around. What ever happened to "The focus on jobs"? Nothing happened. What happened to working on the deficit? Nothing happened. Since the republicans took over the house of representatives they have not done a darn thing to fix what ails this nation. Not one darn thing. No jobs, not deficit relief, and they wont do anything to fix embassy security issues. So what have they done? NOTHING!

    June 2, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  2. TJ

    Public Campaign is itself a tax exempt organization. IRS scrutiny for thee but not for me!!!?? Obama and his administration use the levers of government to intimidate and destroy their enemies. This is Chicago style politics brought to the Federal level. Frightening for anyone who values civil rights. Obama and Holder have to go. History will judge this as one of the most corrupt presidencies that America had to endure.

    June 2, 2013 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  3. edmundburkeson

    Liberals who call this a witch hunt are being far too kind. If the IRS is targeting conservatives, the guilty parties make witches look like Snow White. And now what appears to be too coincidental to be coincidental, the wife of the former IRS Chief who worked for a big money, big labor groups whose goals paralleled that of those being investigated. The trails to the WH appear to be getting warmer.

    June 2, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  4. VEW2012

    The only group denied a tax-exempt status by the IRS was a Democratic group.
    "In fact, the only known 501(c)(4) applicant to have its status denied happens to be a progressive group: the Maine chapter of "Emerge America", which trains Democratic women to run for office. Although the group did no electoral work, and didn’t participate in independent expenditure campaign activity either, its partisan status apparently disqualified it from being categorized as working for the “common good.”

    "Ironically, the national organization and its earlier chapters had gotten tax-exempt status by the IRS during the Bush administration in 2006. But it appears as though the Maine group’s rejection triggered a review of the entire organization, and Emerge America and all of its chapters had their tax-exempt status revoked. Emerge reincorporated with 527 status, which requires it to report its donors."

    June 2, 2013 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  5. K

    A civil war is brewing...

    June 2, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  6. cbp

    Do you think we could investigate members of Congress, too? Considering how little they have accomplished over the last few years we should dock their pay. Most only worked three days a week and went home on our dollar. What were their aides doing when they were gone?

    They sent young men into battle without the appropriate gear and supplies.. They voted for a war based on faulty information and we are still fighting that ward 12 years later. They have kept appointees in limbo and have refused to put their names forth so they could be voted up or down by the Senate.

    It is time that people in government and those in government jobs were held accountable for what they do. Those who spent the money or who allowed the expenditures of money should be relieved of their jobs. Many Americans would gladly filll hose positons.

    June 2, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  7. Pat

    Fash forward 2016, Hillary is President, Dems control both House and Senate...thanks Issa.

    June 2, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. jamessavik

    In this case, there actually are witches.

    The use of a gov't agency to silence or intimidate opposition groups is a banana republic type move and completely unworthy and illegal as hell in American democracy.

    Anyone that had anything to do with this is going to pay their pound of flesh.

    June 2, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  9. Kristina

    None of these groups, regardless of party affiliation are interested in the public good, they exist solely for politics. We all know this, so none of these groups regardless of affiliation should get tax exempt status

    June 2, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  10. Robyn

    The endless neo-con sheep bleat,
    "Oh, we are so oppressed."

    Get over yourselves, you pathetic self-obsessed, self-pitying losers.
    The entire universe is not one giant ever present, conspiracy theory
    aimed at you.

    June 2, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  11. Pete

    @think again,you're right and those families of soldiers electricuted by faulty non- grounded Chinese pumps used in showers can't sue the Halliburton branch that sold them to the military either because that branch of Halliburton isn't stateside,nice ha!!And how bout Bushs gift to Cheneys Halliburton of no bid contracts in the Iraq war at our kids and tax payers expense and where was that car thief in Issa with his committes then, under Bushs desk along side Condi Rice!!

    June 2, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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