That was a desperate spin on the liberals' part. And you bought it. Were any progressive organizations denied tax exemption?<quoted text>
The scandal surrounding the Internal Revenue Service's handling of tea party groups took a left turn this week after congressional Democrats revealed that the tax agency had also targeted liberal groups for scrutiny. The revelation led some liberals to declare that the controversy was a manufactured one, created by a partisan Republican (Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista) to taint President Obama.
If only. The new information changes the context profoundly, but it doesn't explain why IRS employees made wholly inappropriate demands for information from politically active groups seeking nonprofit status under Sections 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) of the tax code. Nor does it explain why applications from some groups languished for years while lower-level IRS agents waited in vain for guidance from headquarters.
The scandal has always had two main elements: the "be on the lookout" lists the IRS used to flag certain applicants for special scrutiny, and how that scrutiny was conducted. The first of these issues -- and only the first -- was recast this week when Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, released BOLO lists from August 2010 to April 2013. Although heavily redacted, they revealed that tea party groups were hardly the only ones flagged for extra screening.
Other would-be nonprofit groups singled out include "progressive" or "blue" organizations ("Activities are partisan and appear anti-Republican"), as well as those involved in "Occupied Territory Advocacy" ("Applications may be inflammatory, advocate a one-sided point of view, and promotional materials may signify propaganda"), medical marijuana, paying down the national debt, setting up regional health information exchanges and accountable care organizations and promoting open source software. Some on the BOLO lists had obvious political overtones; others simply presented new questions about who should receive a tax exemption.
The oldest of the BOLO lists released by Levin -- the ones from August 2010 through March 2011 -- indicate that the IRS had been flagging applications from progressive groups for some time, while tea party groups were newly receiving scrutiny. In the case of the former, the list says that "their 'progressive' activities appear to show that (c)(3) may not be appropriate." (Section 501(c)(3) groups collect tax-deductible contributions and may not engage in any campaigning.) For the latter, the list says the applications for (c)(3) or (c)(4) status should be sent to a particular IRS group for review with help from Exempt Organizations Technical, a group of experts in Washington.(Section 501(c)(4) groups collect donations that are not tax-deductible, and they may participate in political campaigns so long as it's not their primary activity.)
Did the IRS send the FBI to progressives asking them what they said in their prayers, what books they read or the names and addresses of all the members in their organization and leaked them to a hard rightwing conservative website which they published?
If you don't recognize this as KBG tactics and a gross infringement on civil liberties and that this would have never been tolerated before this administration, you're helplessly lost.