When an apparent scandal breaks the safest thing for any politician to do is to declare their outrage and demand an investigation, but in the case of the IRS, I have a feeling the impending investigation will disappoint a lot of critics if this report from Bloomberg is any indication.
The Internal Revenue Service, under pressure after admitting it targeted anti-tax Tea Party groups for scrutiny in recent years, also had its eye on at least three Democratic-leaning organizations seeking nonprofit status.
One of those groups, Emerge America, saw its tax-exempt status denied, forcing it to disclose its donors and pay some taxes. None of the Republican groups have said their applications were rejected.
Progress Texas, another of the organizations, faced the same lines of questioning as the Tea Party groups from the same IRS office that issued letters to the Republican-friendly applicants. A third group, Clean Elections Texas, which supports public funding of campaigns, also received IRS inquiries.
In a statement late yesterday, the tax agency said it had pooled together the politically active nonpartisan applicants — including a “minority” that were identified because of their names.
If there is any scandal here at all, it’s that some Tea Party groups were flagged for extra scrutiny along with Democratic groups simply because they had “Tea Party” in their name.
Some call that targeting. I call it common sense.
Ultimately none of the Tea Party groups had their applications for tax exempt status denied while at least one Democratic group did. And if we find out that several low level employees of the IRS were responsible for this, I wouldn’t call that much of a scandal. At least not in the sense that it will have any impact on the administration’s agenda. It may, however, make the IRS even less likely to scrutinize the avalanche of tax exempt “social welfare” groups brought on by Citizens United in the future.
On the subject of the Associated Press, President Obama asked Senator Chuck Schumer to reintroduce the media shield bill this morning according to New York Times reporter Charlie Savage.
White House this morning asked Senator Schumer to reintroduce the media shield bill which died on Senate floor in 2010.
— Charlie Savage (@charlie_savage) May 15, 2013
Personally I’m not ready to shed any tears for the Associated Press if they did in fact disclose information that may have exposed the identity of an undercover CIA agent who infiltrated Al Qaeda in Yemen.
That is not whistleblowing. And we used to be outraged by things like that. For instance when Valerie Plame was outed by the office of the vice president.
Will Congress revive and improve the media shield bill? Probably not as it was congressional Republicans who asked the Department of Justice to investigate the Associated Press.