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Tipsheet

IRS to Launch Nationwide 'Security Review,' Blaming 'Congressional Republicans and Far-Right Extremists'

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is wasting no time responding to criticisms and concerns that the misnamed "Inflation Reduction Act" will provide funding to help grow and weaponize the agency. On Tuesday, The Washington Post's Jacob Bogage reported that "IRS launches safety review after right-wing threats." 

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The focus on blaming those on the right isn't merely in the headline, but is also in Bogage's sub headline, which reads that "Republicans in Congress are repeating baseless claims long made by extremists, experts say, potentially putting federal workers in danger."

Then there's how Bogage begins his piece. As highlighted by our friends at Twitchy, the author continues to blame congressional Republicans, even lumping them in with "far-right extremists." 

His opening paragraph reads:

The Internal Revenue Service will launch a full security review of its facilities nationwide, Commissioner Charles Rettig announced Tuesday, as congressional Republicans and far-right extremists are lashing out at the agency and the new funding it is slated to receive in a massive spending law.

Such members mentioned by name include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), as well as Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). 

Here's how Bogage refers to a perception of threats and the rhetoric that has driven the review:

“We see what’s out there in terms of social media. Our workforce is concerned about their safety,” Rettig told The Washington Post in an interview. “The comments being made are extremely disrespectful to the agency, to the employees and to the country.”

In a letter to employees sent Tuesday, he wrote that the agency would conduct risk assessments for each of the IRS’s 600 facilities and evaluate whether to increase security patrols along building exteriors, boost designations for restricted areas, examine security around entrances and assess exterior lighting. It will be the agency’s first such review since the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, which killed 168 people.

“For me this is personal,” Rettig wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The Post. “I’ll continue to make every effort to dispel any lingering misperceptions about our work. And I will continue to advocate for your safety in every venue where I have an audience. You go above and beyond every single day, and I am honored to work with each of you.”

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Employees told The Post that the right-wing rhetoric has raised fears that workers could be targeted at their workplaces or in public if they’re identified as IRS employees.

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NTEU President Tony Reardon wrote to Rettig on Saturday asking the commissioner to initiate a security review.

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Employees told The Post that the right-wing rhetoric has raised fears that workers could be targeted at their workplaces or in public if they’re identified as IRS employees.

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IRS workers say they are chastened by years of threats and harassment toward federal employees, and specifically those with the tax agency, long an enemy of right-wing extremist groups. The agency experienced sporadic but sustained violent attacks between the 1970s and 1990s, when extremist groups targeted the IRS to express broader anti-government sentiments, experts say.

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Bogage's piece about the IRS is also very one-sided, as it fails to make mention of the IRS targeting conservative groups in the 2010's, which continued for years

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) has also not shied away from calling out the IRS, having tweeted out photos and footage showing highlights from the Adrian Project, hosted by the IRS Criminal Investigation. While the photos used are from before the bill was signed into law (October 2017 and March 2022) that doesn't mean the situation is any less concerning. 

As Katie highlighted last week, the IRS removed a job posting that drew concern and criticism for specifying that the job required the individual to "carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary."

Bogage also acknowledges that approximately 3,000 IRS agents do carry firearms. 

Such an IRS review is the first of its kind in over 25 years, since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people. 

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