Tea Party

IRS Admits Targeting Tea Party Groups During 2012 Elections (Updated with Actual Letters)

Today's example of the dangers of massive bureaucracies

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"Oh, boo yourself!"
Credit: jesman / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

In early 2012 several conservative groups of the Tea Party persuasion reported they were getting strange letters from the IRS demanding more information than they believed typical for 501(c)4 non-profit political groups â€” sometimes hundreds of pages more. Fox News reported back then:

In letters sent from IRS offices in Cincinnati earlier this month, chapters including the Waco (Texas) Tea Party and the Ohio Liberty Council were asked to provide a list of donors, identify volunteers, financial support for and relationships with political candidates and parties, and even printed copies of their Facebook pages.

"Some of what they (the IRS) asked was reasonable, but there were some requests on there that were strange," Toby Marie Walker, president of the Waco Tea Party told FoxNews.com. "It makes you wonder if they do this to groups like ACORN or other left-leaning groups."

Were they really being targeted or were they just being paranoid about tiresome, exhaustive but actually common IRS bureaucratic meddling? Turns out they were being targeted, after all. Today, an IRS head admitted as much and apologized. Via the Associated Press:

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.

Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.

I'm sure a stern memo was sent out to all involved.

(UPDATE: Click through to see some actual letters courtesy of the American Center for Law and Justice)

Letter from the IRS to Tea Party organizations

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  1. Agency responsible for taxes targets groups opposed to taxation!

    In other news Cop shoots dog.

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  2. It is always low level workers. Funny that. As if some IRS drone would risk their job and commit a crime out of spite. It couldn’t possibly have been higher up or political people responsible. Never.

    1. You and I are both familiar with bureaucrats. Anyone below a GS 15 would never initiate a process outside the scope of their duties. It had to have been higher-ups. Probably a political appointee in DC.

      1. Totally. If some GS 12 manager came in and said they were going to do that, they would have been laughed out of the room. The actual bureaucracy is much more apolitical than people believe. In my experience no one talks about politics and people generally keep their political views to themselves. And they know pulling a stunt like this can get you fired. Like actually fired such that the merit service protection board isn’t going to bail you out.

        This totally came from a political higher up.

        1. I have to disagree. There are constant reminders about what constitutes a “constructive change” to a contract, what the “colors of money” mean, etc. because these little folk frequently do stuff they shouldn’t. I’m sure some mid-level manager told some peon to double check every anti-tax non-profit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the peon decided on his own that “tea party” means “anti-tax”.

          And making a mistake like this wouldn’t get anyone fired, just reassigned.

      2. I assume this is sarcasm? Half the people below GS-15 don’t even know what their duties are.

        1. The point is, some 12 or 13 isn’t going to stick his or her neck out for political reasons. They’re also lazy as fuck and would never generate extra work for themselves. They do what they’re told. Anyone with a hint of proactivity does not last in the Fed bureaucracy – it’s too frustrating for them.

          1. But they also aren’t always the brightest pencils in the shed. Whoever did this may not have even realized it was a political move. It could go either way. I just have a personal rule about never ruling out incompetence.

            1. The eternal question: malicious stupidity, or self-interested laziness.

              1. And why is someone keeping pencils in the shed instead of a desk? GOVERNMENT – go figger….

          2. I’m already hearing news reports that multiple offices were doing the same reviews. So multiple offices acted independently targeting the same type of groups with no direction fro superiors?

            1. Well, if that’s the case then the Republicans have another cover-up to go after once Benghazi! blows over.

              1. B-b-but…that would be….POLITICAL!

                What difference does it make!

      3. I’m so glad that I have no idea what GS 15 means.

        1. GS 15 is pretty much the highest level you can get to in the civil service. As opposed to political appointees, who aren’t classified as “GS”.

          1. What about GLG-20s? A movie said they’re the best.

            1. That’s quite a jump in base pay.

              thanks for the bruises, and you can keep the stool samples.

          2. Who would win in a fight, a GS-13 with a +12 axe or a CW-4 with an invisibility cloak?

            1. Do you think that just this once you could take things seriously?

              1. Wait, should I stop consulting the rulebooks?

            2. Hey, Tulpa. Did you move to Virginia? Get a new job?

              1. Quit snooping around my personal lift.

                1. Sorry. I remembered you were maybe moving to Sacramento, and just realized you changed your handle to (LAOL-VA). Hope all is well.

                  1. Yes, I’m in VA now. With the new job.

                    I’m not used to people being friendly around here, apologies for my tone.

      4. “Anyone below a GS 15”

        Does that stand for Government Stooge Level 15?

        1. It does now.

        2. “General Schedule,” but good guess.

          1. Too late, already gone to print. Maybe in the next edition.

            1. Hey, I liked it. Just figured you wanted the real answer too.

      5. Anyone below a GS 15 would never initiate a process outside the scope of their duties.

        My dad was an 8 or 9 and did. Once. Of course, he was a nuclear reactor technician (insert Homer Simpson joke) and insisted that safety measures actually be followed. And this was BEFORE 3 Mile Island and the Dept. O’Energy.

        After 3 Mile Island, they never let some safety wise-ass like my old man anywhere near an actual reactor ever again.

      6. It had to have been higher-ups.

        I disagree. It’s easy to imagine politically ideological low IQ lower level employees singling out political groups they were told to hate.

    2. It did have a Ken Lay feel to it.

  3. And this is what story number 1000? that would have been a major legacy threatening scandal had it happened under a Republican Administration and the groups been left wing but is now a page 12 below the fold one day story.

  4. Today, an IRS head admitted as much and apologized.

    Have you been singling out political groups for heightened scrutiny? Yes, and we’re terribly sorry.

    Are you going to stop? No, and we’re terribly sorry.

    I think sorry is bureaucratese for ‘Suck it, bitch-ass proles’.

    1. He’s only sorry that he has to address the proles.

  5. I’m sure of course that Block Yomomma had nothing to do with this whatsoever. What a fucking scumbag.

    1. The IRS is executive branch still, right?

    2. It wasn’t him! It was one of his evil ministers!

  6. I guess I’m feeling especially peasant-like today. I’m actually impressed that anybody who works for the IRS can admit that this happened and that it’s wrong.

    1. Your standards on what to expect from the feds has been lowered, only natural. Imagine twenty more years of progressive victories and how low the bar will be.

  7. You know, just once, even if it doesn’t stand, I’d like to see a judge declare that as a consequence of something like that, said organizations are exempt from IRS investigation for a period of twenty years. Some kind of actual consequence for malfeasance would be a nice change of pace.

  8. Stern memo from Lois Lerner to low-level IRS workers in Cincinnati:

    “This is to reprimand you for auditing all those Tea Party groups on your own initiative and without any encouragement from me or other Administration officials. This reprimand will be removed from your files unless you commit additional misconduct, if you know what I mean. Hint: Snitches get stitches.

    “Toodles,
    LL”

  9. I look forward to them enforcing Obamacare.

    1. that’s rediculous, the irs has nothing todo with heath care

      1. Not sure if serious.

        1. The problem is: I’m pretty sure you are. Parody really isn’t possible anymore.

  10. Of course, passing a law to increase the tax rate of those who are involved in electioneering does not in any way encourage corrupt, selective enforcement. No, sir!

  11. an IRS head admitted as much and apologized.

    “We’re sorry. Sorry we got caught.”

    1. “And we’ll be equally sorry and contrite when we do it again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again.”

  12. As punishment these low level employees and their families will be sent to a month long training session supervised by high level employees in Hawaii.

    1. Incidentals are not included, so really, it totally sucks, man.

  13. This doesn’t seem like an admission so much as a tacit threat.

  14. I find it hard to believe there’s a single Tea Party-affiliated group that isn’t deeply political and thus probably ineligible for tax exemption. The whole movement was a GOP rebranding effort, after all.

    I’m curious how far up the chain you guys want to take the blame? All the way up to the then-IRS commissioner? Come on, go ahead, say yes, so I can say you mean the Bush-appointed IRS commissioner?

    1. Come on, go ahead, say yes, so I can say you mean the Bush-appointed IRS commissioner?

      Holy smokes, couldn’t even wait to unload the GOTCHA!

      1. This meme amongst progtards that only victims of an astroturf campaign would participate in a political movement against taxes and the lengths the progtards deny reality to promote it is really really funny.

        It only makes them look stupider and is unconvincing to all but the most credulous, yet they can’t bring themselves to give legitimacy to their opponents and so they keep hitting themselves.

        1. You know Tony isn’t sincere in anything he writes, right? Those words above were specifically designed to get out of you the most ire that can be extracted. So, why bother to engage them?

          1. Oh, he doesn’t inspire ire in me. Just laughter.

          2. Ire? For Tony? What a waste of time that would be.

            1. There is no denying his strategy works. He does it for attention and he gets attention. The most popular guy here by far. It is not even uncommon to see threads he hasn’t even visited yet where someone wistfully posts ‘here comes Tony to explain why this isn’t a case of Team Blue hypocrisy in 3 . . 2 . .’

              He is the leader of the pack and y’all are swooning for his letterman jacket.

              1. Why would anyone respond to posts they agree with? Just to fill the void?

          3. designed to get out of you the most ire that can be extracted

            Since harnessing the energy of founding-father-grave-rotation didn’t pan out, the next green energy strategy is harnessing libertarian ire, a truly inexhaustible, sustainable resources available in significantly larger quantity.

            1. How does libertarian ire compare to progressive-feminist dudgeon?

              1. Like a recurring ass pimple compares to a menstrual cycle.

              2. How does libertarian ire compare to progressive-feminist dudgeon?

                Try harnessing that without massive Anti-patriarchy backlass.

                Nobody will complain about harnessing libertarian ire, aside from the libertarians, and they’ve proven easy enough to ignore. Their complaints about being harnessed just increases generator capacity.

                1. Backlass, Copyright 2012, Trademarked, and Patent Pending.

    2. Re: Tony,

      I find it hard to believe there’s a single Tea Party-affiliated group that isn’t deeply political and thus probably ineligible for tax exemption.

      I wonder why would you even consider that someone or some group should be eligible for tax exemption at all if you believe (as you have stated many times before) that taxation is meant to pay for the wonderful bounty that is our civilization.

      Please, explain that to me. Your coherence of thought may still rekindle in me a trust in mankind.

      1. “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society” in which “[t]hree generations of imbeciles are enough”.

        1. ^ this. SOMEone went to law school 😉

    3. 501(c)4 groups are expressly allowed to engage in political activity, dopey.

      The entire reason to create a 501(c)4 is to engage in political activity.

      With regard to how far up the chain to go, let’s start with getting the low-level guys fired, and bring federal charges against them. They get leniency if they give up their superiors. And we’ll see how far that process gets us.

    4. The whole movement was a GOP rebranding effort

      Nope. The GOP wishes it could muster than kind of support, and they’ve done all they can to try to co-opt it, but the Tea Party still wants lower taxes and spending, including cutting back the Great Pentagon Pork Barrel.

      -jcr

      1. The problem is that it’s hard to know how much the GOP really wants lower taxation. It’s more likely they are just panting after the power that comes with more money to spend. The rhetoric is just a path to that power.

  15. I find it hard to believe there’s a single Tea Party-affiliated group that isn’t deeply political and thus probably ineligible for tax exemption.

    You’re so cute.

    Dumb, but cute. Like a baby bunny.

    1. Insulting baby bunnies. That’s low.

  16. Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.

    One can sense the utter frustration and sense of despair coming from the head of the IRS unit, who has to deal with the fact that his department is populated by such a bunch of loose cannons. I cannot feel anything but pity for the poor fellow.

    1. You’re off the case Macbain!

      1. Mendozaaaaaa!

  17. initiated by low-level workers

    pics or gtfo

  18. In a stunning display of mendacity, “Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias.”

    So I guess they were just ticked off about New England’s football team and didn’t like little girls drinking caffeinated beverages.

  19. “Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias.”

    Yeah, that’s some pro-quality “taking full responsibility” right there. I think she just catapulted herself to the top of the list for a Cabinet seat.

  20. AHEM

    *clears throat obnoxiously*

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHH

    1. ha!

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  22. Pfft. Next you’ll tell me the Tea Party never expressed any racist platform or intent, and that it was all a deliberate smear narative by certain state-puppeted media outlets and their Useful Idiot viewership to punish them for complaining about taxes and Big Government.

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  24. OldMexican| 5.10.13 @ 12:24PM |#
    “One can sense the utter frustration and sense of despair coming from the head of the IRS unit, who has to deal with the fact that his department is populated by such a bunch of loose cannons. I cannot feel anything but pity for the poor fellow.”

    You bet! In my dealings with low-level bureaucrats, they *always* show initiative and ambition! Pushing the envelope all the time! Taking chances!
    Pity the poor people who have to manage workers like that; why it must be like herding cats!

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