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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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 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.
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.