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. I Am God

    Really conservatives? And most people wonder why we should never take the Tea Party or affiliate groups seriously any more. They are destroying the reputation of the their party with all these so called scandals they claim Obama is involved in.

    June 1, 2013 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  2. I Am God

    Also. Profiler called Stuffit. Obvious troll and one of the main reasons why the Republican Party is losing its reputation with the citizens of this country as well as people across the world.

    June 1, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. DeepeThought

    On Friday, reports broke that Former IRS chief Doug Shulman’s wife works with a liberal lobbying group, Public Campaign, where she is the senior program advisor.

    June 1, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. John

    Remember, whatever they get away with today, becomes standard operating procedure tomorrow. Think you're safe because your guy is in office? Would you feel the same way if this practice became the norm and we ended up with a President Palin? or a President Rumsfeld? Targeting by any agency can not be allowed at any level for any reason.

    June 1, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. whitepine

    No wonder our country is in debt. No one wants to pay taxes....corporations hire lawyers to find a zillion loopholes so they don't pay taxes, the wealthy do the same, money is hidden in the islands to avoid taxes, 47% of the population don't pay federal income tax. Now political groups don't want to pay taxes. So who is going to pay the salary of those Congressmen, the soldiers, the treasury? A small cheap government would be like shopping at Wal-Mart. You get what you pay for.

    June 1, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  6. vidal808

    I would definitely target any group that has association with Tea baggers – I applaud the IRS for scrutinizing them – a bunch of groups that think that they don't need to pay taxes like us regular folks. Go get hem IRS. I am glad someone in that organization has the common sense to see trough the smoke screen of these dubious organizations.

    June 1, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. eleanor

    Spare me the manufactured outrage by the extreme GOP Tea Party in or out of Congress who do everything in their perverted power to wipe out any semblance of real govenance or Democracy including getting elected officials to pledge to the whims of a a rich plutograt who doesn.t want to pay taxes for the overabundance of services he receives.

    June 1, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Thomas

    The Internal Revenue Service recently audited the books of a Texas nonprofit group that was critical of campaign spending by former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) after receiving a request for the audit from one of DeLay's political allies in the House.

    I'm Shocked !

    June 1, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. ubermartimus

    As soon as "Breitbart" and "Daily Caller" showed up in this article, it stopped being "news". Send it to FoxNation.

    June 1, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. Ben

    501(c)4 status is dangerous. The issue isn't the tax exemptions, even though I personally feel that nobody should be tax-exempt. The issue is that these groups can funnel money to political campaigns and they have NO requirement to provide a list of donors. Do you know what this means?

    It means that foreign governments and special interests can control elections like never before. If China wanted to influence our elections (you know they do), they could just funnel money to one of the 501(C)4 organizations... and nobody would be the wiser.

    June 1, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  11. Ben

    Tom – The military is government and takes the biggest share of the money. Are you suggesting that we get rid of the military?

    June 1, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  12. Sue

    Why aren't people asking why political groups are getting exempt from taxes when they do not fall under social welfare umbrella? That really is the question.

    June 1, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  13. Michael

    Does ANY of this matter since the leader of the GOP is on record saying that his goal will be to make sure that Obama will not be able to achieve any of the things he wants to, especially those that are good for the country. God forbid a black man be remembered positively in US history.

    June 1, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  14. SnottyNozeBratt

    The real question is why are there any tax free groups? Special interest groups ought to invest in their special interests. Given the array of them, ESPECIALLY political why are taxpayers bankrolling them?

    Flat tax on everybody and no special interest leeches.

    Simplify simplify.

    June 1, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  15. matt

    Bagger lickens (nickname for tea party repubLICKENS, aka: rightwingnut whackos) are getting whackier every second.

    June 1, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  16. Jack Lehr

    Leftists don't care about any wrong doing as long as they benefit – "By whatever means necessary". I'm sure the people involved don't care if what they did was wrong – they should find out by serving time in prison. An employee of a public agency taking the fifth? how much protection should public employees have (that us non government workers couldn't dream of)? Aren't things in this country getting a bit out of hand? The rest of the world seems to think so.

    June 1, 2013 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  17. jpmichigan

    Your civil liberties are violated, by individuals that we PAY to serves the American taxpayer. These sandals. will hurt the Obama administration. The Democrats , out of fear, voiced concerns about tea party groups after the 2010 elections, well they will have more now to fear. MANY Democratic congress people wrote to the IRS, to check out the tea party groups, and the President also voiced his dislike of them. I guess the Democrats in the IRS took it to heart and . Well, Mr. President YOUR chickens have come home to roust, time to pay the piper.

    June 1, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. Loathstheright

    they should be really looking into any Teaparty non-profits, they are not non-profits, but just another front for billionares manipulating ignorant Tea people and disclosing who is doing what.

    June 1, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  19. Ted Ward

    So called "liberals" can no longer strut about with the obnoxious pretense that they are somehow a morally superior breed. With Holder's attack on the press and the IRS targeting and harassment of political organizations the administration doesn't agree with, the Obama administration's credibility, "transparence", and public trust are in tatters.

    June 1, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  20. William Brown

    I'm not really concerned that conservative or tea party groups were targeted. I am concerned that this being an acceptable practice for the govt agency it will effect any and every group of American Citizens in our future, namely your (and our) grandchildren will be subjected to tyranny, financial destruction, incarceration, and maybe more. It was never intended by our founding fathers for our govt to have the power to line up and herd select groups of our citizens into some kind of govt "thumbs on" situation due the opinion of the people holding office and using the power of the office to do it. Look at the elections and tyranny in most of the rest of the world. We do not want that!!!

    June 1, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  21. chuck

    Shulman, what a putz

    June 1, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  22. bobmguthrie

    "The conservative website Breitbart..." What?. Wasn't WND, InfoWars or available to lend in a thruther/conspiracy hand?. Slackers.

    June 1, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  23. Kris

    Seems logical to me to investigate any group applying for non-profit status. In particular, political groups. Looks like typical GOP rush-to-judgement.

    June 1, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. ATPMSD

    Here's thought – get rid of the I.R.S.

    June 1, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. gstlab3

    the second amendment was put there for reasons just like this bunch of stuff staring us in the face right now.

    June 1, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
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