What these overly intensive investigations ultimately resulted in was another perfect execution of the Obama Doctrine. Some groups gave up while others waited three or more years for a decision. Ultimately, the public servants at the IRS only ended up serving the political interests of the president and his allies. All the while, these targeted groups were left with little recourse.
The good news is that the rampant use of this tactic of exploiting limitless review periods to obstruct lawful activity has prompted action. As mentioned, Republicans in the Senate and House have advanced several pieces of legislation that would force regulatory agencies to make expeditious decisions on energy and environment related operating permits. This week, on the IRS front, Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) is set to introduce the Access to Court Challenges for Exempt Status Seekers (ACCESS) Act. This bill would afford those groups seeking 501c(4) status the same protections afforded to charities and foundations that apply for 501c(3) status. The latter groups currently enjoy the ability to have the courts make an immediate judgment on their tax-exempt status should the IRS fail to do so within nine months. The ACCESS Act would simply expand this same right to applicants for c(4) status as well.
The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right of a “speedy” trial to those accused of crime, so it’s safe to say that the Obama Doctrine, the practice of using the government to obstruct lawful activity of innocent citizens, totally flies in the face of the principles upon which this nation was founded. While we should be aware of, remember, and study the Obama Doctrine, it should be a policy practice rendered incapable of replication. Members of Congress on both sides would be wise to advance legislation like Senator Coats’ ACCESS Act to do so, as I’m sure Democrats would regret leaving such precedent open for a Republican administration.