According to documents from an audit conducted by the Internal Revenue Service’s inspector general, officials from the agency have allegedly been targeting conservative political groups, with names such as “tea party” or “patriot”, for the past two years. The IRS has also allegedly been scrutinizing against nonprofit groups that criticized the government and wanted to teach fellow Americans about the Constitution. The documents, which were leaked to the Washington Post by a congressional aide, show that the Cincinnati-based IRS field office responsible for evaluating tax-exemption statuses on applications targeted political groups that made statements that “criticize how the country is being run” and those that were educators “on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
The GOP is fired up about the supposed IRS misconduct, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) saying on CNN’s “State of the Union”, “This is truly outrageous.” She adds that despite White House spokesman Jay Carney’s statement that the allegations deserve an investigation, “the president needs to make crystal clear that this is totally unacceptable in America,” according to the Washington Post.
President Obama responded to the IRS allegations today during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, saying, “You don’t want the IRS ever being perceived to be biased and anything less than neutral in terms of how they operate. I’ve got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it and we will make sure we find out exactly what happened on this.”
Marcus Owens, who supervised the tax-exempt groups at the IRS from 1990 to 1999, says that overseeing tax-exempt groups “carries with it a risk” and that the Cincinnati office “isn’t as plugged into what’s [politically] sensitive as Washington.” Before the IRS’s most recent restructuring, Owens’ says that the agency had “tripwires in place” that would catch internal unfair behavior, such as the most recent allegations.
“There’s no longer that safety valve, and as a result, the IRS has been rolling the dice ever since,” says Owens.
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow her on Twitter @KrystaLoera