IRS Scandal: Harassment vs. Routine Scrutiny

Carol Platt Liebau
Posted: Jul 13, 2013 3:04 PM

In this week's effort to muddy the waters around the IRS targeting scandal, Democrats are once again claiming that the IRS targeted progressive groups as well as Tea Party groups.  The (alleged) "evidence"? That at a "training workshop" in 2010, IRS officials were told to be on the lookout for liberal groups as well as conservative ones.

It's just deja vu all over again, isn't it?  As I've noted before, 

At this point, the outrage isn't about the IRS giving extra scrutiny to some groups applying for tax-exempt status.  It isn't about the use of BOLO lists, in general.  It isn't even about the inclusion of certain terms on BOLO lists. It's about the fact that, when agents did indeed "flag" ideological groups with names on the BOLO list, the IRS seems to have harassed only those with right-leaning views.

This week's disclosure does reveal that there was, in fact, a dedicated "Tea Party Coordinator" at the IRS, a position that had no analogue on the left.

What's more, nothing the Democrats have brought forward explain why:

(1) Only 30 percent of groups with the word “progressive” received extra scrutiny -- but 100 percent of groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their name were subjected to invasive questioning.

(2) Agency officials have claimed in the past that "Tea Party" could mean "liberal" -- if, indeed, liberal groups were on the BOLO lists as we're now being told;

and again, the grandaddy of them all

(3) Why only conservative groups have been able to document harassment from the IRS.  

When Democrats can bring forward lefty groups like all the conservatives who testified before Congress, that's when their claims that the targeting was incompetent -- and bipartisanly so -- will begin to gain even a scintilla of credibility.

Note to Democrats: When we talk about "IRS targeting" -- no one means "standard scrutiny." The term refers to concerted efforts to harass law-abiding Americans (seeking tax-exempt status) based on their (right-leaning) viewpoint alone.