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

    This comment completely tips their hand..."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."
    The only people referring to this country as a democracy (it's not a democracy, folks, and never has been.), are the left wing ideologues.

    June 2, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  2. Anonymous

    President Obama's campaign converted to a 501c(4) after the election. It kept the same 32 million members, funds, staff, and agenda as before November 2012. But tea party groups with scores of members are still being delayed after 3 years. If the irs asked Organizing For America the same kind of questions it asked True The Vote, it would take the entirr irs the rest of eternity to evaluate any response

    June 2, 2013 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  3. DC1973

    You're citing Breitbart? Seriously?

    There's a difference between "fair and balanced" and "falling off the deep end," you know.

    June 2, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  4. Gregory

    Even from the grave Brietbart is polluting the news cycle.

    June 2, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  5. James felter

    Organizing For America, President Obama's 501c(4), existed for 6 years as his campaign before changing its stripes to a "social welfare" organization. It is the largest, most aggressive political organization of the last decade, and it qualified for 501(c)4 with no delay. But tiny conservative groups have been held in limbo for years. This isn't rule of law. It is tyranny.

    June 2, 2013 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  6. Rogue351

    Maybe if the Tea Party and the GOP did not have the total destruction of America in mind, on the radio, Tv, and in print every second of every day. The message being drilled into the religious every Sunday and any chance a preacher can. The congress having the sole purpose to make President Obama and his administration life has difficult as possible not caring for one second about the American people, the real American people. Those that are still left in middle income group. Those of use that have not risen to the 3 million dollar home, 100k car and collage educations for each of there 10 children. And those of us that have not been bankrupted by medical bills or layoffs so that a 60 million dollar a year CEO can keep his income. Those of us that actually pay taxes and do not jump through loop holes only setup for the rich or hide money out of the country. Those of us that do not hire an attorney every April to see how much they can get out of paying, even though the money goes for roads, education, consumer protection, military defense, etc. etc etc. things everyone takes for granted because they have not lived out side of the USA in places where these things are not an everyday occurrence but a luxury. Maybe that is why the people at the IRS decided to step up and put a little hurt on these war mongers, bigots, care more for their gun than they do their fellow human being. Maybe the IRS know as well as most of us middle Americans do that the only reason the right is throwing such a fit with the election of Obama and the reelection of Obama if because they, the right are being uncovered for the anti american haters they are. The way the influence hate via religion, exactly the way the radical muslims do. The way they rights political figures hide behind the NRA, the same group that is dumping millions of weapons that "if" stolen from "responsible gun owners" will be used against us and our families. Which there are mountains of proof this is exactly what has happened or we would not have the amount of guns on our streets if we truly had "responsible gun owners". The same right that would rather have the people of the greatest nation in the world die on the street, staving because a family member got sick and their insurance would not cover them. The same GOP Tea Party that would rather let thousands of Americans die because they are the unlucky ones for living in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffering a natural disaster, NO Federal Aid !! The very same GOP that knows that Bush and Cheney will go down in history as the worst administration America has ever seen but still wants to do things exactly the same way. The same GOP that would send thousands of immigrants back to countries where they could likely be killed. Not allowing these same immigrants who work our fields, by choice even though they are paid next to nothing by the corrupt right wing that owns the farms and the land. They would rather have food rot on the vine rather than help them and the American people. Maybe that is why the IRS gave these groups the shaft because they are the terrorist in out boarders, claiming to have god on there side. Since when did god carry an assault rifle, hate and discriminate against people because of who they love. The same GOP that claimed twice in one election that Rape is not so bad. The same GOP members that are trying to drag America into yet another war in Syria with a group they know nothing about, McCain siding with kidnappers. The same GOP that welcome the baptist into the GOP even though they protest fallen soldiers funerals The very same GOP tea party that is ok with having the KKK and arian brotherhood voting along side the "responsible gun owner" religious right. Maybe the IRS saw how bit of hypocrites and bigots each and every member of the GOP tea party our and decided to stand up for America and make then suffer just a little bit for what they have done and will continue to do to the greatest land on the face of this earth. Well until they de-finance our national parks and start strip mining and fracking them, and if you don't think that will happen think again.

    June 2, 2013 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  7. Anonymous

    So the scandal is... groups designed to investigate and regulate corporate political money laundering through nonprofits attempted to investigate and regulate said nonprofits?

    June 2, 2013 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  8. ghost2012

    All churches should be scrutinized then. Since they are too tax exempt. All churches that partake in the political forums should have their status revoked and then have them audited.

    June 2, 2013 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  9. Andrew

    That's a connection?

    June 2, 2013 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  10. JMF

    Seriously, just another reason to have a flat tax – either income or sales, not both, collected once – no deductions, no credits, no exceptions. Then the tax code could be a tax formula instead. EVERYBODY pays, no one gets a free ride. How hard could it possibly be?

    June 2, 2013 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  11. soooooo

    LOL, breitbart is as right leaning as a guy missing his left leg. fact is this guy (the head of the irs) was a bush appointee. and never mind that the shouldnt have gotten their non-profit status anyway since in order to qualify you need to not have political views dictate the direction of your org.

    June 2, 2013 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  12. Larry

    The purpose of the IRS investigating these groups was to avoid every Tom Dick and Harry from claiming "Tax exempt status as a charity doing good for everyone". The Conservatives were under a microscope because they were constantly abusing this by claiming "Charity" when it was only a front for campaign funds. EVERYONE should be scrutinized to avoid the unscrupulous from using this as a front.

    June 2, 2013 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  13. IRS NOW

    The IRS should absolutely investigate them. Everybody knows the Tea party and gang are just hiding behind 501c. These are clearly political arms of the Repukeblican party. In other countries, these parties would have been labelled as terrorist organizations. No different then Al Qaeda and the Al bla bla.

    June 2, 2013 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  14. Ken

    Are right-wingers really this stupid? Where did these idiots go to school?

    June 2, 2013 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  15. DaMenace1

    I voted for Obama, yet I want to see full justice bring to light any and all that are responsible for this!

    June 2, 2013 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  16. guest

    After reading the above comments, clearly the most absurd, self contradicting and hypocritical are those made by conservatives.

    June 2, 2013 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  17. harvey conn

    YAWN. The economy is recovering, jobs, housing, sales stock market all up. Republicans, rooting so hard for the country to fail miserably so they can blame it on Obama, have shifted their focus to "government scandals" in another failed attempt to shame the president. Meanwhile they are always forgetful of the many, many scandals that pile up under their administrations. U.S Embassy and Consulate Attacks under George W. Bush. Total deaths: 60. Outraged Republicans ZERO. But thank goodness they are now sending in John McCain to Syria to get it all straight. Too bad he didn't take Sarah Palin with him. I'm sure she really understands the situation.

    June 2, 2013 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  18. god

    The TEA BAGGERS deserve to be looked at. They are the party of TREASON. Screw em.

    June 2, 2013 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  19. winchester74

    Just because the Republicans attack the IRS every day doesn't mean the IRS should attack republicans. After all, just because they hide their profits in offshore accounts and launder money through phony "non-profit" organizations that are actually funneling bribe money to GOP candidates - that's no reason to investigate them.

    June 2, 2013 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  20. wacojoe

    The question should be: How and why should any government level be able to tax any part of political free speech? It ain't free if government is taking a cut and regulates through its taxing power. If you have to bend to their will and jump through their hoops to say what you will, then what you say is not yours to freely utter. The power to tax is not only the power to destroy but the power to curtail, modify and direct. That alone is an abridgment of the 1st Amendment.

    June 2, 2013 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  21. Seyedibar

    I don't see the issue with increased scrutiny on groups that publicly boast of ways to avoid paying income tax. Many tea party members and their heroes like Ron Paul suggest we need no income tax at all.
    We require an income tax or else the federal government would have to tax states individually and require a much larger and expensive office. Scrutiny does not equal persecution. Just pay your taxes. The rate of taxation in the USA is extremely low compared to the rest of the developed world, and you really haven't much to complain about.

    June 2, 2013 02:51 am at 2:51 am |
  22. Dick

    Let's eliminate the tax-free status of all political organizations. I can't believe we use tax policy to encourage all of these organizations (left, right, or whatever) that spend millions upon millions slinging mud at each other or trying to influence government policy. Let's tax them all and use the money to reduce the deficit.

    June 2, 2013 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  23. oh please

    Funny how the guy responsible for all of this is a Bush appointee

    June 2, 2013 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  24. wacojoe

    In the issue of what kind of outfit Shuman's wife is a high muckety-muck, if the word "Progress" in its name fails to ring a bell or serve as a clue, then take a look at their list of major funders...something CNN failed to research and/or failed to mention. The list includes SEIU, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Common Cause, Ford Foundation, & the Barbara Streisand Foundation. What do you think their goals are with regard to conservative campaign plans?

    June 2, 2013 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  25. Name Uche Agonsi

    There seem to be a growing understanding in the initial misjudgement of facts over the IRS issue. The key questions should have emphasized on 'WHY' the irs did what it did, not just who did what,....then the legal facts as well as the quality consideration of performance rating. The depth of such real issue was initially overridden by the political factor which should have featured last. And why the hell should the hysteria emerge at the front burner 12 months after it was highlighted in audit & declared to be corrected. The entire exercise has now joined the list of cosmetic brandings designed by the GOPers to disrupt/distract the Obama Administration to help them gain relevance in the 2014 midterm election. We should ask rightly where does this leave America, when such actions forestalls progress in adressing the major issues like unemployment, debt, infrastructures, peace, etc.

    June 2, 2013 03:22 am at 3:22 am |
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