As reported last night, "anti-Obama rhetoric" was one of the criteria the IRS used in some cases to flag nonprofit applicants for further scrutiny.
Now, a congressional investigation reveals that the IRS undertook the targeting scheme as a result of perceived pressure from Democrat politicians, according to a report in the Washington Times titled "IRS officials thought Obama wanted crackdown on tea party groups, worried about negative press."
And at least in some quarters, no doubt the mission was eagerly accepted -- the congressional report notes that there are emails between staffers writing derisively about the Tea Party.
According to the congressional staff report, the pressure began with President Obama's attack on the Citizens United decision; apparently, the report details emails between IRS officials (and interviews with them) that make it clear they were aware of the political pressure to act.
Indeed, according to the Times report:
A day after [Lois] Lerner's Duke speech [echoing the President's criticism of Citizens United], a senior IRS official circulated a press release from Sen. Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, urging the IRS to investigate political spending by Crossroads GPS, a group associated with former George W. Bush political strategist Karl Rove.
None of this should come as any surprise given that we were already well aware of the political cross-pollination between The White House and the IRS -- Stephanie Cutter attending White House meeting with the IRS, the potential involvement of White House counsel Bob Bauer, and the like. We already knew that (as noted here on September 6), even as conservative groups were being harassed, the IRS and DOJ were actively aiding and advising pro-Obama non-profits. And that Lois Lerner colluded with a staffer at the Federal Elections Commission in an effort to assist a partisan Democrat agenda.
Above all, the staff report helps to connect the dots. Ultimately, it seems to confirm a theory I offered back on May 13:
Most everyone working under a leader has a pretty good idea of the kinds of actions that are permitted, welcomed, tolerated or encouraged -- if not explicitly, through a wink and a smile and non-discouragement. To put it in terms that the perpetually-aggrieved on the left can understand, it's like a boss tolerating a hostile workplace, not by actively harassing women himself, but by condoning that behavior by other employees, turning a blind eye to it, and subtly communicating through his own words and actions that all the EEOC signs and the rest aren't really to be taken seriously.
President Obama has pretty much treated the truth -- and in some sense the Constitution -- a little bit like that boss with the EEOC signs. It's all there for show. But clearly, through "jokes" and winks and nods and tolerating hitherto out-of-bounds behavior committed on his behalf, he signalled to potential partisan freelancers that little was really beyond the pale.