by Jules Witcover
Well, this is a fine mess.
After years of moaning about various "conspiracies" against them, conservative activists finally have a real (i.e., not manufactured by Fox or inflated by Limbaugh) piece of evidence to take before the court of public opinion.
Meaning, of course, the revelation that the
These groups reportedly amounted to about a quarter of the 300 organizations flagged for review between 2010 and 2012, but according to Lerner, there was no political intent. Rather, she says, the words became a shortcut used by employees to help them sort through the explosion of groups seeking tax exemption under the Internal Revenue Code. The relevant Code section, 501 (c) (4), requires that any exempt group be working to promote "social welfare" and that political action not constitute its "primary activity." The groups the IRS flagged were not necessarily denied exemption, but were subjected to extensive questioning and required to produce membership lists and donor information.
Under the most charitable interpretation of the facts, this unit of the
Taxpayers deserve to know which it is. And how long it has been going on. And whether groups of other ideological stripes have been similarly targeted. And how the malfeasance -- assuming it is malfeasance -- will be punished. And what safeguards will be put into place to ensure this sort of thing never happens again.
One could argue, then, that the tea party and patriot groups singled out by the
Some observers will find the controversial tea party and patriot groups less than sympathetic illustrations of that point. But every group is controversial to somebody. And only by vigilance toward everyone's rights do we protect anyone's rights.
It's too easy to imagine some future
What was the IRS Thinking? | Politics