Not the First Time Non-Liberal Groups Targeted by IRS

Carol Platt Liebau
Posted: May 10, 2013 7:30 PM

Below, Guy lays out the IRS' scandalous admission that it targeted Tea Party groups based on those groups' viewpoints -- a First Amendment constitutional violation if ever there was one.  One is tempted to hope that the unjustly-audited groups seek any redress that's available under law -- hopefully, with plenty of discovery -- to complement any other government investigations.

But note that this is not the first time political gamesmanship at the IRS has been detected.  The late Robert Novak, writing in 2002, pointed out another IRS admission that it harassed conservative organizations during the Clinton administration.

From this, two observations can be drawn: First, the IRS absues occurred during Democrat presidencies.  It doesn't seem to me to be a coincidence that the party of big government has, in recent years, been the party most willing to use that big government for illegitmate purposes.  One reason conservatives distrust big government is because it is far too easy for the corrupt and the ruthless to exploit state apparatus for their own partisan purposes.

Second, the quiescence of the press may also explain why it's been Democrat presidencies featuring these abuses in recent years.  Compare the coverage of this story -- and the earlier IRS abuse during the Clinton years -- with the holy hell that broke out when Richard Nixon was caught using the IRS for political purposes.  It's a sharp contrast.  In other words, Republicans know they will pay a steep price for abusing the public trust . . . and the press clearly is more indignant about political audits being inflicted on groups with which they sympathize.

That's how a democratic republic with an adversarial press is supposed to work.  But as the Clinton- and Obama-era IRS scandals teach us, apparently some abuses are more equal than others -- especially in the press' eyes.  Just imagine that, rather than "Tea Party," the groups singled out for audit had contained the word "abortion" or "reproductive rights."  If the press would find credible the employees' explanation that it was an abuse perpetrated by low-level employees -- completely unrelated to politics -- than it should accept the IRS' word in this case.  If not, they know how to proceed, from back in the Nixon days.