The latest attempt to defend the IRS' targeting of Tea Party and "patriot" groups involves calling into question how broadly applied the tax-exempt 501(c)4 "social welfare" status can be. Both the New Yorker and the LA Times bemoaned that this was the "real scandal" about the IRS targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny, and a column on CNN detailed the growth of the 501(c)4 after the Citizens United decision, including 501(c)4s like Karl Rove's electoral vehicle Crossroads GPS and Priorities USA, an electoral vehicle started by former Obama staffers. In today's House Judiciary Committee's oversight hearing with Attorney General Eric Holder, Democrat Ted Deutch picked up on this line of defense, accusing 501(4)c groups like the tea party groups of cheating taxpayers by claiming tax-exempt status despite their political nature.
Neither the New Yorker nor the LA Times nor CNN nor Ted Deutch mentioned probably the most popular and well-known 501(c)4 in the country, Organizing for Action (formerly known as Obama for America), which runs the @barackobama twitter feed and owns BarackObama.com. They identify as a social welfare organization too. In its targeting of Tea Party and patriot groups, the IRS went after political dissenters for trying to enjoy the same tax-exempt status that the president's fan club and other liberal groups get. That's the scandal; the IRS targeting dissenters, not that those dissenters get tax-exempt status, while the attempt to demonize 501(c)4 groups but fail to mention OFA probably ought to be a scandal of its own.