Inside the IRS Corruption Scandal
by Amy Payne, Heritage Foundation, February 21, 2014
Sure, a high-level IRS official left after the scandal erupted last year about the agency targeting conservative groups. But what good did it do?
IRS officials admitted that groups with conservative leanings, especially with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, had been targeted for special scrutiny, asked for “inappropriate” information, and had their applications for nonprofit status delayed on purpose. Now it’s coming out that nothing is changing—and in fact, the Obama administration has been pursuing a stiffer crackdown all along.
Nowadays, “Instead of trying to correct its internal bias and problems, the IRS is apparently trying to double down and stifle the political activity of opponents of the Obama administration and its policies,” says Heritage’s Hans von Spakovsky. He explains:
[I]t appears the administration not only tried to delay and prevent conservative organizations from receiving their tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 election, but was also already planning new regulations that would stifle their political speech and potential criticism of the administration.
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Organizations on both the left and the right have warned that the proposed rules would be harmful to their communications with members and the public.
So, instead of serious investigations and consequences, we find out that the IRS was carrying out the will of the Obama administration—and woe be unto those who try to go against it.
Their stories are disturbing. Catherine Englebrecht testified that after filing for nonprofit status for two groups she was launching, “my private businesses, my nonprofit organizations, and family have been subjected to more than 15 instances of audit or inquiry by federal agencies.”
Kevin Kookogey, a Heritage member who founded Linchpins of Liberty, told us about his run-in with the IRS.
Kookogey’s organization is focused on mentoring high school and college students in conservative philosophy. After his application for tax-exempt educational status was delayed, he received 95 questions from the IRS—including queries about the identities of everyone connected with the organization and its leaders’ political views. He later learned that his group was one of hundreds in the same boat.
“A lot of people were afraid…that if they started fighting the government, they were going to be attacked,” he said. “This has manifested itself—we know that it’s become true, that people have indeed been attacked by the IRS for taking on this case.”
Von Spakovsky agrees: “What is clear from these hearings and the other evidence that has surfaced over the past eight months is that the First Amendment rights of Americans are under assault.”
Learn more about the Obama administration’s drive to stifle political speech.
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