Last week, I pointed to a story by a Cincinnati Fox affiliate in which Queen City-based IRS agents said they were following orders to conduct ideologically specific scrutiny of groups applying for nonprofit tax exemptions. At least five employees from the Cincinnati office, which was apparently largely in charge of determining status requests, are going to be testifying before Congress.
As Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner notes, a recent Washington Post story quotes an unnamed IRS worker from the same office thus:
“We’re not political,’’ said one determinations staffer in khakis as he left work late Tuesday afternoon. “We people on the local level are doing what we are supposed to do. . . . That’s why there are so many people here who are flustered. Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions without someone signing off on them. There has to be a directive.”
Higgins also notes that it's far from clear how many "determinations" staffers the IRS has, with estimates ranging from as low as 140 (according to former acting commissioner Steven Miller in congressional testimony) to as high as 900 (according to the Wash Post).
One thing that seems very clear: The IRS story has a long way to go before it's played out. There is zero evidence linking any of the extra scrutiny of Tea Party groups to the Obama administration, much less the president himself. But the real scandal is already out there, playing out in plain sight: The IRS is already an object lesson in granting the state more power, even or especially under the guise of a straight-up, by-the-rules bureaucracy.