The IRS scandal continues to expand. According to a report in today’s edition of USA Today, newly discovered documents show the agency flagged political groups based on the content of their literature, raising concerns specifically about “anti-Obama rhetoric,” inflammatory language and “emotional” statements made by non-profits seeking tax-exempt status.
In all, the November 2011 document (embedded below)identifies 162 groups by name, with comments by Internal Revenue Service lawyers in Washington, which is strange because the administration said the entire problem was caused by a couple of zealots in Cincinnati.
Liberals will be happy to learn that out of the 162 groups mentioned on the 2011 documents at least 11 of them are progressive organizations, giving them the ability to say, “See they weren’t targeting conservative groups.”
But the American Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit legal institute that represents 23 of the groups appearing on the IRS list, said it appears to be “the most powerful evidence yet of a coordinated effort” by the IRS to target Tea Party groups.
“The political motivations of this are so patently obvious, but then to have a document that spells it out like this is very damaging to the IRS,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ. “I hope the FBI has seen these documents.”
The IRS categorized the groups as engaging in several advocacy-related activities that could have barred them from tax-exempt status, such as lobbying and “propaganda.”
But the word “propaganda” doesn’t appear in section 501(c)(4), which governs the social welfare status that most Tea Party groups were applying for, said John Colombo, a law professor at the University of Illinois. Instead, it appears in section 501(c)(3), which governs public charities.
“There would be no reason I would think to flag them if it’s for a 501(c)(4) status,” Colombo said. “That’s very odd to me.”
What the report doesn’t show is which of these groups eventually were approved and the difference in waiting times between the conservative and progressive organizations. Either way the ratio of conservative/progressive organizations targeted indicate that there was something rotten going on in the IRS offices in DC.
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