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. jamesbz

    The scandal is a big deal but there was no conniving behind the scenes. Remember the story about the IRS head going to the White House "154 times?"Dude was only 'cleared' to go into the White House 154 times. He only actually went 11 times. It's common for involved players to be cleared to enter the White House but not go. I saw during the time, Geitner went to the White House 19 times. As usual, this scandal will amount to nothing. The media coverage will incessant but Cons will claim it's not being really covered. Then it will fade away and Con will continue to whine and stomp, blaming the media and liberals for their problems. Never mind that their policies are generally ignorant and insulting to a majority of the population. Now they want all the scandal talk to continue so people won't focus on a recovering (albeit slowly) economy and the fact that they've proposed nothing except things to clamp down on women. 2014 will be a wipeout and Dems don't even deserve it.

    June 1, 2013 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  2. Clarke

    It is the courts fault, they gave everyone an out for not having to pay taxes, it is a legal way to steal from those with less money because now they pay more in taxes to fill in the gaps of lost revenue. How do I become non profit or not for profit.

    June 1, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  3. Animal

    "It's unfortunate a few bad apples at the IRS will make it harder for those questions to be asked without claims of bias." I wonder if Public Campaign was asking the same questions of groups that helped fund democrats also?
    Somehow I doubt it.

    June 1, 2013 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  4. Just my two cents

    The IRS has been targeting groups for years. They have had Market Segment Specialization programs in which they clamp down on particular industries. The question in this instance, which differentiates these facts, is whether it was done for political purposes.

    June 1, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  5. ericpone

    Lets be clear. Many of these extremists brought this on themselves. Patriot and Tea Party are the Hezbollah of the US. Their terrorist actions are tolerated and have been for too long by mainstream conservatives. As one I am ashamed that they seek comfort under our tent. They use similar strategies as Hezbollah. Many people have died in raging gun attacks on people of color, religious minorities, and other ' liberal' groups. As if neither of these groups have folks who are conservative or are people who hate their country. They make bold, aggressive, religious stained speeches extolling how God is waging holy war,(Christian Jihad?) on America and that good Americans will support the war. They hoard weapons and bombs. They setup compounds and are preparing for the coming civil war. These are not the actions of Patriots so much as terrorists. And then they are surprised when stuff like this happens. Frankly, the FBI needs to make sure that they are hunted down and controlled. Terrorists like the ilk of Breitbart and the Tea Party cannot be tolerated. Our security as a country at risk. They scare me. They are a threat to very fabric of our society.

    June 1, 2013 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  6. Uh-Clem

    Can anyone provide any evidence of any injury to any of these applicants selected for additional review? I didn't think so.

    June 1, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  7. McBob79

    There's no doubt the white house knew about what was going on and likely order it to happen. The question now is who knew when and what did they know. Di Mr. Obama know about this? Did he order it? This is a significant problem for an increasingly unpopular administration.

    June 1, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  8. Let The Truth Be Told

    It is not just that these groups were being targeted; they were being asked questions that had NOTHING what so ever to do with a tax exempt status; asking about the content of their prayers, asking for book reports, and the list goes on. This is not something any group liberal or conservative should be subjected too. The liberal press would be making this headline news everyday if their organizations had been targeted in this way and were asked to provide such crazy information.

    June 1, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  9. M-W-T

    Show me the FACTS! If you had ANY THING to back this up, would be all over Faux news.
    Even O'Billo the clown has it all wrong, Shulman has only been to the White House 7 times not 157.
    Get your "FACTS" straight you IDIOTS.
    Why so you people even listen to the IDIOTS over at Faux news.......The most uninformed people in the World

    June 1, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  10. Skeeve

    "Are you paying attention at all? Can yoou honestly say that you don't see a problem here?"

    Yes, I do. It is very simple really. ANY organization, literally ANY that exists in this country should pay taxes. Yes, churches, unions, PACs and so on and so forth.

    June 1, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  11. Mike

    My goodness the admiistration purchased " ALL OF THE AMMUNITON " and left our military defenceless. OH, BAD,. BAD,.PresIdemt Obama. Gee, thank goodness we have the Republicans who are telling us about how we are now defenceless. Thank you IDIOTS ! ! !

    June 1, 2013 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  12. William House

    Conservatives think the 16th Amendment is a Conspiracy.

    No Tea Party Bigots were disenfranchised of their tax free efforts to disenfranchise everyone if elected.

    June 1, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  13. John

    Support their party until the end, crooked or illegal they don't care

    June 1, 2013 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  14. Spgfld Tom

    I have the answer! We can have Eric Holder investigate. That'll solve everthing. Sounds like the IRS is where Chicago thugs go for employment opportunities. Oops, I meant to type the White House.

    June 1, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  15. Michelle

    @ Hogarth, I read the number of liberal groups applying were a fraction of the many Tea Party groups that applied for tax exempt status. I'm guessing but tax evasion doesn't really fit into many liberal agendas.

    June 1, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  16. Nothing At All

    Thank the justices of the Supreme Court for enabling this controversy to be possible in the first place.

    June 1, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  17. Mike

    Let's see. In 2010, You talked about JOBS, JOBS, J0BS. We belived in you. So far we now instead we believe the our motto should stay as " IN GOD WE TRUST" and if OBAMA is for it 'WE'RE AGAINSTE IT, even if YOU were for it before. . I'm sure most of you are too young to remember, however Gorcho Marks made a movie where he was running for office and he sang a song " IF YOU"ER FOR I"M AGAINST IT. I believe some of you could learn something if you see it.

    June 1, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  18. Pete in Guilford

    After all the scrutiny, the only group that wasn't allowed tax exempt status was a liberal group. Get over it, you whining right wingers.

    Not to mention, that the process WAS working. The inspector general was investigating this LAST SUMMER. Darryl Issa knew about the investigation LAST SUMMER. This whole thing is just right wing ridiculousness. Poor little whiners.

    June 1, 2013 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  19. Doc

    I'm surprised Breitbart didn't blame Acorn or Planned Parenthood. The great irony here is that they're targeting the man in charge because of his wife's political beliefs. Didn't Mitch McConnel condemn speculation about his actions because of his wife being of Oriental heritage? Didn't Bachman and Breitbart also claim the gov't was infiltrated by islamists? All the while West was claiming that 80% of the democrats were card carrying communists? And for pete's sake, disenfranchised republicans? If they are not a political organization but a social welfare organization (welfare? I thought conservative tea party people didn't believe in welfare) what has that got to do with republicans not voting? There was a large influx of claims. They were categorized by name with tea party and patriot used as key words. Some overzealous IRS employees whose job it is to ensure that political organizations don't get tax free status were incredulous that anything tea party could be non-political delayed but ultimately approved ALL of their applications. Yes the targeting was illegal. Yes, those who are responsible should be prosecuted, but that doesn't mean that the President, Vice President, or anyone in the Whitehouse had anything to do with it. Yes, it does cause concern for all citizens. And finally Yes, the scandal (as with all the recent scandals) appears to be a witch hunt by the republicans/tea party, wasting valuable time and resources to try to bring down the President. It's deja-vu all over again, just like the Clinton years.

    June 1, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  20. Ken

    Let's see .. We know people in the IRS have lied to Congress about this activity. We know the Democrats knew about this activity in May of 2012 well before the election, but kept it quiet. We know the man in charge during this time had a Wife in an important role in with a Liberal group designed specifically to target conservative groups to begin with. We know the man in charge visited the White House on 150 distinct occasions over his tenure, more visits than all the previous heads combined all the way back to Nixon. And we know personnel in the IRS were leaking private information to other liberal organizations so they could target conservatives. Despite the lies and ALL the known evidence, you Obama butt-kissers keep insisting there was nothing going on and we are making to much about all of this? You are either idiots or brain damaged to even say that, let alone think it. You seem, like most liberals, to lack a basic understanding of right and wrong, or morals or values.

    June 1, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  21. David

    "The Supreme Court's "Citizens United" decision will prove to be one of the worst decisions ever made. The FBI should not have targeted any groups; however, lots of political groups are hiding behind the so called "non-profit" label to push their political agendas."

    One of the worst decisions ever made? You think it's comparable to Dredd Scott or Korematsu or Plessy v. Ferguson? Hyperbole much?

    Also, the FBI and IRS are not the same organization. Just FYI.

    June 1, 2013 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  22. Robin Jones

    As the cover is pulled back from the whole IRS mess, the rotten and nauseating stench of corruption grows stronger.

    June 1, 2013 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  23. Donnie the Lion

    There is probably a "worst punishment" scenario where Lois Lerner and 4-5 underlings get canned. No one is going to jail over this. We're talking "extra scrutiny" based on political affiliation, not "we shredded all your paperwork." The ratio of applications for tax exempt status for these organizations is 20+ to one conservative.....NONE of them should, conservative or liberal, should be tax exempt in the first place.

    There will be no impeachment, no jailings....this is a problem that will be corrected but it isn't going to take the focus off of the GOP shortcomings and it isn't going to magically make 5-10% of the American voters in 2016 change how they will vote. But the GOP is sure working hard to sell it to their campaign contributors that that is exactly what will happen.

    Lots of luck, GOP. You'll need it (and then some).

    June 1, 2013 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  24. Greg

    How can the Tea Party have LEGAL Tax Exempt status to begin with? They are not even eligible for such! Tax Exempt status is supposed to be reserved for non profit organizations performing social services with no political ties whatsoever!

    June 1, 2013 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  25. Frank M.

    The IRS has more power than the FBI or any other federal agency for that matter. Without evidence or even charges being filed, they can come to your home or business seize your property, freeze/seize your money, and/or close your business. Did you know that? I didn't. Until they came to my house in April & seized my family's vehicles (left us w/1 car for 3 people), seized my bank accounts, & tried to coerce me into admitting to something I knew nothing about.

    Now living on borrowed money because of this, I had no choice but to hire an attorney to get my vehicles & money back. This has been a very sobering wake up for me as I was formerly a very pro-US Govt. former military vet. The IRS nor any other agency should have that kind of power, but they do.

    June 1, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
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