Low Level Employees of the IRS…Sure

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If there is any doubt that we are dealing with gangsters at the helm of the nation, this story should remove that doubt:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.

The agency — led at the time by a Bush administration appointee — blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware. But that wasn’t good enough for Republicans in Congress, who are conducting several investigations and asked for more.

“I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not under way at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

White House spokesman Jay Carney declared it was indeed inappropriate for the IRS to target tea party groups. But he brushed aside questions about whether the White House itself would investigate.

Instead, Carney said the administration expects a thorough investigation by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. The inspector general has been looking into the issue since last summer, and his report is expected to come out next week, the IG’s office said Friday.

Carney said he did not know when the White House first learned that tea party groups were being targeted.

Lerner acknowledged it was wrong for the agency to target groups based on political affiliation.

“That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review,” Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.

“The IRS would like to apologize for that,” she added.

Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. Agency officials found out about the practice last year and moved to correct it, the IRS said in a statement. The statement did not specify when officials found out.

About 75 groups were inappropriately targeted. None had their tax-exempt status revoked, Lerner said.

The IRS is an independent agency within the Treasury Department that enforces the nation’s tax laws. Revelations that the agency was targeting political groups because they were affiliated with a movement that is critical of President Barack Obama could become a new headache for the White House.

“The admission by the Obama administration that the Internal Revenue Service targeted political opponents echoes some of the most shameful abuses of government power in 20th century American history,” said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Many conservative groups complained during the campaign that they were being harassed by the IRS. They accused the agency of frustrating their attempts to become tax exempt by sending them lengthy, intrusive questionnaires.

The forms, which the groups have made available, sought information about group members’ political activities, including details of their postings on social networking websites and about family members.

IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that the IRS was not targeting groups based on politics.

“There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman told a House Ways and Means subcommittee.

The IRS said senior leaders were not aware that specific groups were being targeted at the time of the hearing.

“While we acknowledged centralization of these applications last year, the IRS did not acknowledge the use of names as part of the process earlier because the details were not initially known to senior leadership and (the inspector general) has been reviewing the situation,” the IRS said in a statement. “Their work is now far enough along that it was appropriate to address the issue when it came up during (Friday’s) tax conference.”

Go here to read the rest.  The statement from the IRS that this was not political is simply an insult to the intelligence of anyone who is sentient.  The IRS has thus far not indicated if any of the “low level employees” have been disciplined.  Of course this is not a matter for “discipline”.  This is a federal crime and warrants criminal prosecution.  Do that and I imagine that the “low level employees” would quickly give the names out of higher ups who ordered them to do this.  This is the type of conduct that one expects in a dictatorship: using the resources of government against political adversaries.  Go to the video below, at 1:19, where Obama in 2009 joked about using IRS audits against those who displease him.  As usual the policies of this ghastly maladministration are a bad joke.

Update:  Well the myth of only low level employees being involved didn’t last 24 hours:

Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general’s report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner.

The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.

But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “Tea Party,” ‘’Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.

The 9-12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck.Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups “immediately,” the report says.

The Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week. The AP obtained part of the draft report, which has been shared with congressional aides.

Among the other revelations, on Aug. 4, 2011, staffers in the IRS’ Rulings and Agreements office “held a meeting with chief counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.”

It is clear that the information released yesterday was only given due to the upcoming release of this watchdog report.  This thing stinks to high heaven and I think we have only seen the tip of a very dirty iceberg thus far.

 

 

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28 Comments

  1. Perhaps Art, although in scandals of this type there are usually higher ups lurking in the background.

    “The sensitivity arises in no small part because of the IRS’s history as an agency that presidents have used to intimidate, harass and punish their political enemies. Most infamous was Richard M. Nixon, but the practice went back at least as far as Franklin D. Roosevelt. ­Post-Watergate reforms made the IRS more independent and were designed to insulate it from politics.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/irs-admits-targeting-conservatives-for-tax-scrutiny-in-2012-election/2013/05/10/3b6a0ada-b987-11e2-92f3-f291801936b8_story.html

  2. Art, I prefer the metaphor “lemmings” to the “Hive.” Trekkies would see the “Borg.”

    Even so, it’s highly worrisome.

    A few year ago the so-called “right” tried to privatize much of the dirty work, and the National Treasury Employees Union fought and won. The NTEU became highly popular among the IRS beau’rats. So, you may be right, it’s union action and Obama dirty tricks with plausible deniability.

    The Republic and liberty were impaired in 1913 when they opened the Federal Reserve System and the IRS.

    A joke cartoon making the “rounds” prior to 2001 depicted a suit-wearing, bespectacled man with a briefcase emblazoned “IRS.” The caption read “American Terrorist.”

  3. PS: You can see that they are lying. Their lips are moving.

    Old Chinese proverb. “A liar is not believed even when he tells the truth.”

  4. This type of behavior has been going on for a long time. We have been audited 3 times during the last thirty years. My name is on and has been on some kind of “list” with authorities. FBI? Our crimes? organizing Right To Life Groups in Wi, organizing farmers, and working with Native American groups. I realized that all three of these “issues” tie into population control issues and loss of land to private citizen issues. We have been harassed and intimidated to the point of instilling real fear and pulling back from blatant activity because of my children. I am still saving babies, I am still educating on farm and Native American land loss issues(and how it will affect all humans). Oh and by the way the IRS ended up sending us money back as we overpaid. It was hell though. Our yard sign was shot to pieces, I have had boxes of condoms in my mail box, I have had bullets wiz over my head in the yard from the crossroad, I have gotten such violent filthy hate mail. all because I will not stop speaking out about the abortion horror, and what is happening to the takeover of private land and farms, and the abortion contraceptive connection on Indian reservations in the U.S. I have found a direct connection between these three issues to eliminate private ownership of the land, controlling the population, and anesthetizing the entire thought processes of the masses. Been studying these things for over 40 years now and it is no mystery. It’s all documented as to the why’s and what for, nothing hidden. And what does the general pop get into? TMZ “You cannot change what you will not acknowledge”. I think Dr. Phil said that? Nobody gets it.

  5. A man signing himself ‘George Turner’ on another board had this to say:

    Yeah, when I started out saying the IRS letter was addressed to “The Wacko Tea Party” you can bet that it was all in fun. Still, some of those questions are pretty onerous. Could any one of us meet those standards, especially ones about sending copies of all your blog posts? It would take me two or three election cycles just to track down all of mine. Then I would ask if we’re really paying a civil servant to burn a year’s federal salary to read through every line of crap I’ve ever posted on teh Internet, or whether such requests are just a form of pointless torture like making Sisyphus roll a stone up a hill, some Kafkaesque nightmare of trying to appease a bureaucrat who can’t be satisfied.

    It reminds me of an episode of Stargate SG-1 where two ascended beings were at odds. The evil one said, “You can’t destroy me!” and the other said, “No, but I can fight you, and then all you can do is fight me back.” So they spent the rest of eternity locked in a violent stalemate. The IRS can easily afford the manpower it would take to tie up a huge number of political organizations with pointless, unsatisfiable paperwork requests, forcing the new organization’s limited staff to spend their time and resources compiling lists of old blog posts and tracking down obscure receipts instead of doing anything else.

    In this case, I don’t think anyone at the IRS even cared whether any of these Tea Party organizations would or would not eventually be shown to meet the guidelines for a 501(c). It was all about tying them down and inconveniencing them when they could least afford it, hopefully causing despair, burn out, and dissolution.

  6. The “low level”, rogue bureau’rat meme was a lie from day one.

    Shockingly, the lemming, liberal media has departed from SOP and is neither attacking the tea party nor swearing to the regime’s falsehoods, as they had done for four-plus years.

    AP: “A federal watchdog’s upcoming report says senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups in 2011. The disclosure contradicts public statements by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who repeatedly assured Congress that conservative groups were not targeted. . . . The Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week. The Associated Press obtained part of the draft report.”

    This is Chicago gangster stuff. Obama joked about thusly using the IRS in 2009.

    “A bedrock principle of U.S. democracy WAS that the coercive powers of government WERE never used for partisan purpose. The law WAS blind to political viewpoint, and so WERe its enforcers, most especially the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Any violation of this principle threatens the trust and the voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends. So it was appalling to learn Friday that the IRS had improperly targeted conservative groups for scrutiny. It was almost as disturbing that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew have not personally apologized to the American people and promised a full investigation.”

    Until January 2009, the United States of America was a free country.

  7. This story, as the “independent” work of low level employees, stinks to high heaven.

    No person working in a “federal” chain of command, has such “freedom” to operate outside of
    procedural norms, very long. They will be dealt with if/when they try it.

    This is much worse than shameful. It cannot be independent of some of the “layers” of the IRS bureaucracy. I do not believe this contrived story. It is disingenuous and likely patently false.

  8. Qui facit per alium facit per se versus mere vicarious responsibility is a question above my level of learning in law. I am not a lawyer, merely Irish. However, during better days, President Truman forthrightly placed the sign on his desk, “The Buck Stops Here”. Abuse of power is a serious matter. Tyranny grows therefrom.

  9. No person working in a “federal” chain of command, has such “freedom” to operate outside of procedural norms, very long. They will be dealt with if/when they try it.

    Actually, that’s not true. Although senior agency leaders typically take a lot of interest in how well “the field” is performing, they tend to get involved in the particulars only when something hits the fan. There is a TON of leeway for interpretation of agency policy in many cases.

    I suspect that this was not a top-down directive, but something dreamed up by someone in the middle of the chain of command. Sorry to burst your conspiracy bubbles, but that’s my perspective being on the inside of the beast.

  10. All this is SOP for fascists.

    In 2009, Obama “joked” about using the IRS.

    Nuremberg: “I was following orders.”

    Likely, Obama and/or the top dog at the IRS didn’t give specific orders for these crimes. They set the stage. Hitler and Goebbels did not order each of the 6,000,000 murders of Jews in the Holocaust.

    This goes back at least as far as FDR. In addition to “authorizing” the Diem brothers’ assassinations and betraying Cuban freedom fighters at the Bay of Pigs, JFK’s “Camelot” ordered the IRS to investigate both right- and left-wing groups. Richard Nixon was audited three times between 1961 and 1968. And to this day, the lying, lemming propaganda machinery rails that Nixon (only paid 22% tax rates on $1million taxable) was a tax cheat.

  11. I know that it is hard to believe that these actions could be used against non descript peons. The thing is if you are, as in the case of “patriot” or “tea party” definitions, likely to gather the attention of possible likeminded folks who will write letters, or come to gatherings or go to town meetings of politicians and speak against any of their shiftless law making perversions you get on an “enemy list”. I have been labeled everything from a communist to a “posse” and really all I have ever been is a farm mom and a pro-life organizer wanting a better and moral life for my family. Heck for everyone. and yes I have an ability(or had) to talk in front of people, make sense, get them to donate money, time and talent to saving babies and issues pertaining to that. I have been able to pull hundreds of people together through an organizing technique I developed before anyone ever heard of a computer. I have spoken in front of house and senate hearings and it is recorded (I think) in the congressional records. The thing is I put myself out there never realizing that I was so radical or controversial. Really naïve on my part. When your daughter calls you from the university where she works and tells you she has been doing research for a journalism professor and MY name comes up on a “watch” list it is a little disconcerting. Oh yes and this was before cell phones. So I do think there is a lot more to this latest story than meets the eye. If they can do it to MLK or JFK or BK or whoever they can terrorize anyone. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t been on the fringes of it myself. Of course there is a lot more to this that I don’t care to write about here as you never know who’s reading these things. LOL!!!!

  12. I suspect that this was not a top-down directive, but something dreamed up by someone in the middle of the chain of command. Sorry to burst your conspiracy bubbles, but that’s my perspective being on the inside of the beast.

    Yeah, this is totally all low level employees behind this, like the Chief Counsel of the IRS.

    But you have to be a conspiracy theorist to think this goes higher. Move along, nothing to see here. Washington’s got this thing totally under control, peons.

  13. Dear J. Christian,

    I, too, work inside the beast. As an anomaly, an isolated case, perhaps, but not when it seems to be a focused discrimination. No, I disagree. I know of one breech of protocol, not discriminatory but not “in line” with the “culture”, heads rolled.

    There was at minimum, a “wink” from high above, but likely with “plausible deniability”, in this case, I think.

  14. Did anyone actually read the AP article and not just the spin put on it by HotAir? Does anyone want to wager real money that the IG report has a smoking gun that implicates the senior leadership in ordering (not just being “made aware of”) the targeting of conservative groups? No?

    Probably because the IG report won’t be saying that. It doesn’t say that the IRS General Counsel “remained silent” or that this targeting was ordered by “senior officials.” It says that they learned of the inappropriate filtering at a meeting in June 2011 and ordered a stop to it “immediately.” So by January 2012 they changed the filtering criteria — six months is prettty immediate by bureaucratic standards, sadly.

    There is a huge difference between some GS-15 in Cincinnati with a political axe to grind who suddenly gets the bright idea to look for 501 (c) (4) groups with “Tea Party” in their names, and a top-down directive from senior agency leadership or… the Obama Administration. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been to where some nitwit in the field buries a key point in the footnotes of slide 372 and thinks, “Well, I’ve informed headquarters about this – now I can wash my hands of it!” What really happened at that June 2011 meeting? How much “awareness” did Ms. Lerner really have of the specific keyword targeting? You don’t know, because you weren’t there. It’s entirely possible that it was ordered by someone from above, but I’m willing to bet that she was surprised by it, too.

    These SES types are much more politically savvy and unwilling to take risks of appearing partisan than their lower level managers in places like Cincinnati. That’s why the IG report doesn’t have a smoking gun — there isn’t going to be an email from Shulman that says “go get those nasty tea party groups.” Go ahead and believe that if you want, but it just feeds the paranoia. I’m sure there’s no shortage of IRS employees who would love to abuse their power to harass conservative groups, but it takes a bureaucrat who feels enough distance from the political heat to attempt such a foolish strategy.

    Art Deco’s first post is probably closer to the truth (and more disconcerting) — there doesn’t need to be a conspiracy or a cover-up… This is just how things play out naturally when the government is involved in absolutely everything.

  15. “Did anyone actually read the AP article and not just the spin put on it by HotAir?”

    Did you? Higher ups knew about this in 2011 and it went on last year during the election.

    Here is the latest from The Washington Post:

    “At various points over the past two years, Internal Revenue Service officials targeted nonprofit groups that criticized the government and sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution, according to documents in an audit conducted by the agency’s inspector general.

    The documents, obtained by The Washington Post from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where “statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run.” Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the agency, raised objections and the agency revised its criteria a week later.

    But six months later, the IRS applied a new political test to groups that applied for tax-exempt status as “social welfare” groups, the document says. On Jan. 15, 2012 the agency decided to target “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement.,” according to the appendix in the IG report, which was requested by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and has yet to be released.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/05/12/irs-targeted-groups-that-criticized-the-government-ig-report-says/

  16. Did anyone actually read the AP article and not just the spin put on it by HotAir? Does anyone want to wager real money that the IG report has a smoking gun that implicates the senior leadership in ordering (not just being “made aware of”) the targeting of conservative groups? No?

    The Commissioner of Internal Revenue offered Congressional testimony on this issue in March 2012. One of the following has to have been true:

    1. Published reports on the gist of his testimony are in error.

    2. He perjured himself.

    3. He misled the committee with contrived answers which evade the legal definition of perjury.

    4. The agency’s chief counsel (a direct report, mind you) never advised him on the matter.

    Folks in the senior echelon were apprised of the situation in 2011. The announcements by agency officials the other day were an attempt to get out ahead of an inspector-general’s report they knew was due to be released, which is to say nearly two years after aspects of it were disclosed to the chief counsel and this Lerner woman. In making this announcement the other day, Lois Lerner could not keep herself from attempting to snow the public by pretending the abuses occurred over a more circumscribed period of time than they appear to have. It may be perfectly true that neither the Commissioner (Paulson protege or no, a man on the DNC donor list) or Lois Lerner were not the instigators of this; however, their conduct is still odoriferous.

    Thirty-nine years ago, Rep. Barber Conable (R-NY), the 4th ranking Republican in the House announced he would cast a ballot for the 1st Article of Impeachment reported out by the House Judiciary Committee. His reasoning was thus: “I do not approve of leaders who mislead”. There is an awful lot of artifice in politics and deceptive presentation, but in recent weeks we have learned that the President, the Secretary of State, and the chief of the UN Mission were in Sept. 2012 lying with the ease and facility that other people apply to breathing and that the Commissioner of Internal Revenue may have been doing the same six months earlier.

    Many years ago, I saw a brief news segment about a public luncheon of erstwhile press secretaries wherein the reporters asked them to recall instances of them lying. Jody Powell (Mr. Carter’s) said he had bald-faced lied to prevent disclosure of a military operation in the spring of 1980. Ron Nessen (Mr. Ford’s) said he had misled the press twice to avoid embarrassment about the President’s golf outings. Most of the rest present said they had never lied to the press. I would be interested to know how these chaps would grade Jay Carney. Standards are not what they once were.

  17. Mr. Goldberg’s remarks:

    Nearly all of the accounts of the IRS’s policy of targeting conservative groups refer to the mistakes of ”a Cincinnatti field office” (even on NRO). This makes it sound like it’s just one obscure branch out of many out there in the sticks that made an unfortunate mistake. Cincinnatti IRS agents go rogue!

    But here’s the thing. Cincinnatti is where the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division operates. In other words, when the IRS decides to single out certain groups, this is likely where that would happen. It’s like saying a NASA field office in Merritt Island, Fla., made the decision to launch a rocket. Merritt Island is where the Kennedy Space Center is located.

  18. How is it that in an era when technology and the flow of information is instantaneous ,that this administration has no account or culpibility when it comes to the actions of agencies under its control. The White House which is the center of all policies and directives is trying to detach itself as a third party. the truth is, this administration has been fully aware of Benghazi policy failures , phone taps with AP and all IRS activity which has targeted political opponents. If the White House does not know or have control of its own agencies, then who is in charge of this country and why?

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