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

Today's example of the dangers of massive bureaucracies


"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 — 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