At an IRS hearing on Capitol Hill today, the Democrats sought to push ahead with their new narrative. The big new talking point? Obama's hand-picked IRS head, Danny Werfel, released a report on Monday stating that terms like "progressive" and "occupy" were also flagged -- the implication, of course, being that the political targeting (though disgraceful) was at least even-handed.
Like so much of what has issued from the IRS, this is poppycock. If, in fact, the political targeting was bipartisan (as Werfel and Democrats are now insisting), there's only one real question left: Where are its liberal victims? As you may recall, Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee were unable to produce even one lefty group alleging the kind of mistreatment that was routinely visited upon conservative and Tea Party groups.
It's not hard to play a little CYA by putting a few lefty words on a BOLO list. What matters is what was done with the BOLO lists. Indeed, that's the conclusion the IG has reached -- Russell George is standing by his initial assessment that the wrongdoing was directed exclusively at conservatives. From the Washington Times:
“TIGTA concluded that inappropriate criteria were used to identify potential political cases for extra scrutiny — specifically, the criteria listed in our audit report. From our audit work, we did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled “Progressives,” were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited,” Inspector General J. Russell George said.
He said that while 30 percent of groups that had the word “progressive” in their name were given extra scrutiny, 100 percent of groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names were pulled out for strict scrutiny, which involved what the IRS since has said were invasive and inappropriate questions.
Winning headlines like "Documents Show Liberals in IRS Dragnet" from the New York Times -- thus more easily confusing low-information voters and minimizing the shameful political harassment by the agency -- was the obvious goal of Werfel's report. It's just another symptom of a deeply corrupt, deeply cynical administration and agency culture seeking to evade accountability for disgraceful behavior directed against the President's political opponents.