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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker']

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. glenview0818

    When the Nixon, Clinton, Bush administratinos used the IRS for political/personal purposes, we now look back and they get the blame. No one knows who was at the head of the IRS when they were caught. But now we are looking lower, why not use the same ethical arguement for this case. President Obama, if not getting any blame now will end up with in the future one way or the other.

    June 2, 2013 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  2. kay2861

    Fladabosco is the only liberal here who truly gets it!!! Good for him/her!!!

    June 2, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  3. G_Edwards

    So is Public Campaign a 501(c)?

    @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."

    You do realize that the IRS has already admitted they DID do something wrong in targeting those groups. Perhaps you should apply for a job there. You'd fit right in.


    June 2, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  4. TAJ

    Liberals love to call crimes "controversies." Must make you breathe better at night w/ your heads in the sand.

    June 2, 2013 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  5. Dave - Phx

    The goal of all consevative groups is to destroy this country.

    June 2, 2013 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  6. Otis A. Glazebrook

    This is how many of the "Progressive" groups function. Husband & wife teams – where one work for a government oversight agency and the other a Progressive populated "Do-Gooder" Group trying to regulate all human behavior that they don't like...
    The hysterically funny thing is that they used to be Radical Republicans.

    June 2, 2013 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  7. KR

    What a waste of time and taxpayers' money spent on this witch hunt. The citizens want infrastructure building & maintenance NOW! Stop the blaming and stalling and do what you representatives were elected to do or you will be voted out!!

    June 2, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  8. Rob

    Benghazi (Obama blamed it on Basseley Nakoula, and the Jihadists want his head now!)...IRS becoming a weapon of the administration...Obama named a Fox reporter a "co-conspirator" in order to tap the phone lines of James Rosen's parents???...Obama intentionally sold military weapons to mexican drug lords and those guns were used to murder Americans...Then Obama shook down companies for donations by claiming he would soon be regulating them under Obamacare. How about the Pigford files (taking millions of your dollars and spending it on "his peeps" claiming descrimination. And to top it off – he has no memory of any of these things.

    Conservatives keep coming back to the same rigged roulette wheel.

    Lefties (statists, socialists, communists) can't do anything wrong, because they don't believe in right and wrong in the first place.

    And, the media only pretend to investigate, most of them are just repeating DNC talking points in both substance and form.

    June 2, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  9. Richard Miller

    The real culprits in this are the 535 congress persons that have allowed these groups to proliferate. Congress should be held accountable for something-I do realize that do absolutely nothing for their paycheck, but it was them that passed legislation that allowed these groups, conservative, liberal. or whatever political persuasion that you are currently mindlessly following. Fire Congress first.

    June 2, 2013 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  10. seanster5977

    This discussion cannot be railroaded by liberals as they always do by changing the subject. So if you want to discuss the way 501C4 status is granted that is fine. But this is about abuse of power and the politicizing of a branch of government more powerful than the FBI. If any liberal ideology groups were held up, over scrutinized and basically had invasive questions posed as to who all of their donors are or what prayers you say then step forward. You can't because Obama and company have targeted and tried to basically destroy conservatism in America.

    June 2, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  11. A

    And the GOP is tied to KOCH. Next. Get to work Washington.

    June 2, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  12. James Tetrick

    It is funny how many of you are so quick to claim this is no big deal because a Democrat is in office. Hypocrites much? Get off blind party affiliation and be an American for once. These actions should send chills down any patriots spine. To brush it off just because your scared it might damage one party or another is the exact reason we are in such a political mess.

    June 2, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  13. truth in journalism

    A few year back I had a 2 year stint as a contractor for the federal government. First time I had ever worked in the Washing DC area. I came away with a whole new outlook on our government. Its not at all what the average person, like me, thinks it is. Waste, corruption, theft, employees not qualified for their job, employees working 30 minutes out of an eight hour day. It was truely shocking to me. If any american thinks the employees of the federal government are in Washington working for their behalf and looking out for their interests try working for the government for a short time. I think you too will be shocked.

    June 2, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  14. joshua

    Goodday you all.
    i will like to ask 3question
    1 When will nigeria be ok
    2 why the world refuse help nigeria
    3 what is the world reader said

    June 2, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  15. Rudy NYC


    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.
    The IRS did look at what could be called liberal groups. The problem was that following the Citizens United decision there was a sudden proliferation of what could be called conservative groups specifically applying for 501(c)(4) status. I invite anyone to visit the web site of the first group to file suit against the IRS, Norcal Tea Party Patriots. As of late last week, they still had "voter booth guides" for "patriots" posted on their web site. Their mission statement makes the claim that they "do not endorse" candidates, but offer "recommendations" as to which candidate to vote for. I think their non-profit status deserves to be revoked.

    June 2, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  16. Joe

    You trust Breitbart as a source??? You are foolish. They twist everything to meet their right wing view point. I know there are groups on the left who do the same thing.

    June 2, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    MaryM wrote:

    For everyone's information: None of these 501c4 groups are legal. (Dem or Repub) The tax exemption law passed by congress in 1954 specifically states that these groups are to engage in social welfare Exclusively. The scandal is that the IRS changed the word exclusively to primarily in 1959.
    I agree with the change to "primarily". Without it, the mayor riding on the Little League float during the Little League parade would be a violation because the mayor should have his own float. Unfortunately, the interpretation has been widely and severely abused.

    June 2, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  18. Joe

    You trust Breitbart as a source? You are foolish. They twist everything to meet their right wing view point. Remember
    Shirley Sherrod. The government did do something wrong here. It would have been nice to see these groups this upset with the illegal Iraq war and the innocent Iraq civilians killed by the U.S. government actions.

    June 2, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  19. JJ

    It doesn't matter how hard you right wing loozers try to turn this into a soap opera. Simple fact is that you were targetted because political groups cannot be non-profits, and the head of the IRS at the time was a repukeblican appointed by Dubya who used to work for Grover Norquist. Just keep doing what you're doing - your approval ratings continue to crater to below ground levels and 2014 is coming down the pike at breakneck speed, fools. 🙂

    June 2, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  20. 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. The Conservatives also want to do great things, they just think there should be fiscal responsibility. After too many years of big liberal ideas and a nearly 17 Trillion dollar Federal Debt Conservatives are going to do more that sit on the sidelines and watch the country go down the drain.

    June 2, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  21. Bob

    Shall we also investigate the third cousin twice removed on the mother's side, of every Republican in the House & Senate? Who knows what illegal activities may be lurking within just a few thousand miles of Washington!!!

    June 2, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |

    Fred Evil,
    First, let me say that I don't get what conservative groups are getting at trying to equate that statement as proof that there's some connection between Public Campaign or whatever it is, and the IRS deal. That said, re the Tea Party and Thomas, when a case involving the Tea Party comes before the Supreme Court, that will an issue. At present, I'm unaware of any cases before the court that would create a conflict for Thomas. As the courts would say, your complaint is not "ripe."

    June 2, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  23. RF Burns

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

    I guess democrats have NEVER been involved with improprieties. News flash for you, BOTH political parties have been guilty of it at one time or another. Stop being a partisan troll.

    June 2, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. Just a thought

    Let's just be honesty here everybody. The Conservative Groups we are talking about here ARE IN FACT political arms of the GOP / Tea A Tards...Groups sworn to avoid paying taxes in all forms. Now, think for Just A Moment, These are same folks applying in mass for tax exemption. The fact that for the past decade taxes have been at their lowest for nearly 50 years and considering we have been in two wars should give us all pause when the Conservative Groups say they are patriotic. Not....They are vile greedy liars that deserve no such consideration. I pay my taxes, why shouldn't they????

    June 2, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. Truth Seeker

    So for all the liberals our there who this this type of political targeting is OK, so you be fine with the targeting of Liberal groups the next time there is a conservative administration?

    People should not be targeted for their political views. Period. Left or Right, Liberal or Conservative, your point of view should not be targeted. The law does not say you cannot be involved in a political or ideological causes to receive the tax exempt status. It says you cannot use that status to give SUPPORT a party or election. You can't funnel money to one party or the other. But if you want to form a group to support voter reform, such as monitoring elections, you are OK. It is a fine line.

    The problem is that it now appears the IRS not only targeted Conservative groups for tax purposes, but shared the information (illegally) with other government agencies which in turn targeted the groups for other legal situations. So the government storm troopers show up at your door looking at every aspect of you life. FBI, OSHA, FDA, etc., have no business getting this information. But they dd. It is an abuse of power and they need to follow this up the chain of command as high as it goes.

    Once identified, they need to put all of them in jail. Otherwise we become no better then Nazi Germany in the 30's or the Russia in the 50's and 60's. The SS and KGB seem to have nothing on the IRS. They didn't have computers to help sort out their targets. This is some scary stuff.

    June 2, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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