The Internal Revenue Service is apologizing for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.
Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.
Of cooooourse it was “low-level workers” who will never be named or held accountable.
Kudos to the Tea Party activists who first blew the whistle and to Mark Levin and the Landmark Legal Foundation, who pushed back against the Bully Brigade.
Yes, it’s about damned time.
Earlier this month, I reported on President Obama’s campaign bully brigade — and I noted the IRS intimidation of Tea Party groups across the country.
The Landmark Legal Foundation is not taking it lying down.
Today, conservative talk radio giant and movement warrior Mark Levin’s group requested an immediate investigation “into possible misconduct by the Internal Revenue Service’s Exempt Organization (EO) Division that calls into question the integrity of federal tax administration and IRS programs.” Specifically, the letter cites the feds’ information demands that went “far beyond the appropriate level of inquiry regarding the religious, charitable and/or educational activities of a tax exempt entity. The inquiries are not relevant to these permitted activities. Inquiries extend to organizational policy positions and priorities, personal and political affiliations, and associations of staff, board members and even family members of staff and board members.”
…inquiries about personal associations and political viewpoints are not only inappropriate, but impinge upon constitutionally-protected freedoms of speech and association.
Although the Internal Revenue Code has limited the tax exemption subsidy ofSOI(c)(3) organizations to groups that do not participate in political activity, the Service must still tread lightly when dealing with fundamental constitutional rights. Inquiring about the positions a prospective organization adopts on various policy issues serves no valid purpose if the organization does not engage in political activity. Such inquiries appear to be designed only to intimidate the applicants. As it has been upheld repeatedly by the Supreme Court, the government cannot regulate political speech with laws that chill permissible speech. Finally, reports that Tea Party-related organizations are being singled out for the IRS’s intrusive inquires raises serious questions about the propriety of the personnel involved in the evaluation of tax
Landmark Legal Foundation respectfully requests an immediate and thorough investigation to determine whether IRS employees are acting improperly in the evaluation of exempt status applications. This investigation also must determine whether the relevant IRS employees are acting at the direction of politically motivated superiors.
The full document is right here.
I repeat: It is no small exaggeration to conclude that Team Obama’s dead aim is to chill conservative speech and criminalize conservative dissent. All Americans for prosperity must push back with one voice: No, you can’t.