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Durbin Asked IRS’ Shulman to Probe ‘Several’ Conservative 501(c)(4) Groups in 2010

Democrats' background on the issue underscores their interest in turning the current scandal into a campaign finance narrative.

by
Bridget Johnson

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May 17, 2013 - 6:49 pm
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While many Democrats have joined Republicans in public shaming of the Internal Revenue Service for singling out conservative groups, others say the scandal is just a byproduct of muddied rules about nonprofits and political activity in the wake of the Citizens United ruling — and they’re hoping that they can steer the conversation from outrage over political targeting to fuel for campaign finance reform.

But senior Dems may have much more than an opportunity to try to turn scandal to their advantage: they may have a degree of culpability as one especially vocal proponent of campaign finance reform asked the IRS nearly three years ago — around when the stalling of applications began — to probe conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

Long before the extensive questionnaires and document requests levied on conservative applicants fell under the scrutiny of Congress, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, a Democrat appointed by George W. Bush who served through President Obama’s first term, “to examine the purpose and primary activities of several 501 (c)(4) organizations that appear to be in violation of the law.”

At the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the IRS scandal today, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) led the bandwagon of members on the panel who claimed the root cause of the problem was the Supreme Court’s Citizens United campaign finance decision in 2010.

“Applications for secret money political organizations increased by fourfold after that. This small group of people in the Cincinnati office screwed up. Nobody’s going to deny that. They simply screwed up,” McDermott said. “But the Congress, this committee messed up by not giving any clear criteria for what a real charitable organization is.”

“Even with the egregious actions that have been acknowledged by the IRS, there’s still an underlying problem here, and that’s 501(c)(4)s being engaged in politics,” said Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.). “After Citizens United, the IRS was flooded with applications… seeking 501(c)(4) status. And why was that? In large part because super-PACs must disclose their donors while 501(c)(4)s do not.”

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) slipped when he referred to the landmark ruling as “Citizens Union.” When corrected by a colleague, Rangel quipped “whatever.”

“It’s almost an invitation as the law is written for abuse in terms of political activities for corporations that primarily are supposed to be doing social service work,” he said.

“It is something that we have to look at closely, yes, sir,” said acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller. “…I think it’s an area ripe for a redefinition and reform.”

House Republicans were investigating heavy-handed treatment of the Tea Party and other groups by the IRS last year, and Miller told a subcommittee in July that certain applicants weren’t being targeted because of ideology.

But Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) noted the IRS-supplied list of approved tax exempt applications for advocacy organizations through May 2009. “Some of these that were approved were Chattanooga Organized for Action, the Progressive Leadership Alliance, and the Progressive USA,” Ryan said. “If you were concerned about political activity, did you have targeting lists that contained words like ‘progressive’ or ‘organizing’ in their names?”

Miller conceded that these weren’t buzzwords used for targeting, like “tea party” and “patriots,” but maintained that more applications were received from the Tea Party movement, which began in 2009.

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George testified that “the organizations experiencing these delays included tea party organizations, patriot organizations, 9/12 organizations, among other organizations.”

“The status of December 2012 for 296 cases that we reviewed was 108 cases have been approved, 28 cases were withdrawn, and 160 cases were still open. Zero cases have been denied,” said George. “Of the cases still open, some had been in progress for over three years and crossed two election cycles without resolution. Of the 108 cases approved, 31 were tea party, 9/12, or patriot organizations.”

The IG’s report found that 98 of 170 cases that received follow-up requests for information from the IRS had unnecessary questions, he said.

“The IRS later determined these questions were unneeded but not until after media accounts and questions by members of Congress arose in March of 2012,” George testified.

Durbin singled out not the Tea Party in his Oct. 11, 2010, letter to Shulman, but Karl Rove’s group.

“One organization whose activities appear to be inconsistent with its tax status is Crossroads GPS, organized as a (c)(4) entity in June. The group has spent nearly $20 million on television advertising specific to Senate campaigns this year. If this political activity is indeed the primary activity of the organization, it raises serious questions about the organization’s compliance with the Internal Revenue Code,” the senator wrote.

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Top Rated Comments   
Rush said it but most of us were thinking it. "This is what happens when liberals are in charge."

It harkens back to the scorpion and the frog story. "I'm a scorpion; It's what I do."

What's interesting here is the faux concern by the media. The lofty rhetoric and the verbal masturbation that's taking place. The uber-intellectuals are all beside themselves, not because of the wrongdoing, but because it was discovered. "Dammit, if only we had a gestapo-style government that could keep secrets better.", is what they're actually saying if you read the comments and editorials by such nits as Charlie Rose and like-minded groupthink artists.

Then, the obligatory, "How will this affect Obama?". Which, to the racist concubines of the left, means everything. It's one thing to support a black president for their ideas but quite another to support (and defend) him simply for his race and to show the world how tolerant we are and how accepting we are.

Again, the wheels have come off and the driver is having the mule drag the wagon around hoping no one will notice the scraping sound.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
THE IRS AND OBAMA'S BAD ELECTION YEAR KARMA

Ironically, one of the major false issues that the crooked, desperate, slash and burn Obama campaign brutally and incessantly used to slime and bludgeon Mitt Romney (to distract voters from Obama's miserable economic and jobs record) were his tax returns. Now the IRS (the tax collecting agency) is coming back to bite Obama on his no good rotten butt.

The corruption in the IRS has given Conservatives the gift of a deadly sharp edged political sword to nicely and gently and with all due respect drive through Obama's political heart-and ultimately kill the tax-us-to- death radical left and its destructive, bankrupting utopian dream.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How magnanimous of you to admit to all of us the electoral fraud thats been committed by progressives - in the name of progressives everywhere. You must be quite proud of them - and yourself. I watched as the progressives in my state of Washington stole an election - the governors race in 2004. They just kept counting until they finally got the count they 'needed' - then shut down the process. Inbetween counts they 'found' a few more ballots. After the second recount King County (the heavyweight county in Washington) 'found' some 250 ballots 'just sittin around' and forgotten by some 'worker' it miraculously put Queen Chrissy over the top. Well that was it! Time to stop The Count! With the bureaucracy counting the votes (Washington is HEAVILY democrat/progressive) there was little chance Rossi would win.

Funny thing - I haven't heard of any conservatives admitting to any such thing as electoral fraud.

Every time the sh^t hits the fan you lefties want to overhaul something. Anything at all but don't fix the why the sh*t hit the fan. Typical approach to violence that happens to have guns involved. Punish the innocent citizens for the crimes of the criminal element.

Sorry, but I've about run out of room to take one more step backwards from my freedoms.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (26)
All Comments   (26)
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Hopefully our side will be slick enough to make numerous tv commercials of what these bozos said when election time comes around.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's probably worth noting that congressmen of both parties ask for the IRS to probe the validity of organizations' tax-exempt status all the time.

Put "asks irs to probe" into Google. 1.6 million hits, and only a fraction of them are about the Obama-led harassment of conservatives.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Rush said it but most of us were thinking it. "This is what happens when liberals are in charge."

It harkens back to the scorpion and the frog story. "I'm a scorpion; It's what I do."

What's interesting here is the faux concern by the media. The lofty rhetoric and the verbal masturbation that's taking place. The uber-intellectuals are all beside themselves, not because of the wrongdoing, but because it was discovered. "Dammit, if only we had a gestapo-style government that could keep secrets better.", is what they're actually saying if you read the comments and editorials by such nits as Charlie Rose and like-minded groupthink artists.

Then, the obligatory, "How will this affect Obama?". Which, to the racist concubines of the left, means everything. It's one thing to support a black president for their ideas but quite another to support (and defend) him simply for his race and to show the world how tolerant we are and how accepting we are.

Again, the wheels have come off and the driver is having the mule drag the wagon around hoping no one will notice the scraping sound.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
THE IRS AND OBAMA'S BAD ELECTION YEAR KARMA

Ironically, one of the major false issues that the crooked, desperate, slash and burn Obama campaign brutally and incessantly used to slime and bludgeon Mitt Romney (to distract voters from Obama's miserable economic and jobs record) were his tax returns. Now the IRS (the tax collecting agency) is coming back to bite Obama on his no good rotten butt.

The corruption in the IRS has given Conservatives the gift of a deadly sharp edged political sword to nicely and gently and with all due respect drive through Obama's political heart-and ultimately kill the tax-us-to- death radical left and its destructive, bankrupting utopian dream.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hot pitch....
Pillow....
Slug Durbin....

Some ass'y required....
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The IRS broke the laws, and Congress will pass laws to clamp down on the law abiding victims? To legalize IRS's illegality?

How about some laws to criminalize anyone who questions the authorities?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If this wasn't political in nature there would be left wing groups complaining, and they would have been complaining loudly and longly, but there aren't any.

So what is the chance that a non political event only targets one side of the spectrum. Now let's not be so dense as to think this isn't a political situation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I submit that rather than turning the IRS scandal to their favor democrats will be wishing it would all just go away - certainly before the 2014 elections. They are liable to get their collective asses handed to them if this can stay front page news. I think it has exceptional legs. This smacks of orders from on high - lower echelon worker bees DO NOT take initiatives like this on as their personal cause - they take and carry out orders. Democrats are attempting to portray it as a rouge action by low level minions.

As for Durbin - isn't there a law against directing the IRS to attack your political opponents. Durbin should be censored by the senate - I won't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

Michelle Malkin has it right - we are witnessing a culture of corruption - Chicago style.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Democrats are attempting to portray it as a rouge action by low level minions. "
---------------------------------------
rogue

Dammit!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually, "rouge" fits too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am a member of many tea party groups and was personally audited for the first time in 40 years in 2012 for the year 2011 (with no taxable income) as were most of the tea party groups that I belong to (also with no taxable income). The US government is tyrannous.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They can audit me all they like. I have nothing to hide - I've always been honest in my dealings with the IRS. But I will not STFU!

I can't take one more step back from my personal freedoms or there will be none left. In my 65 years I've never seen a government run amok like this one - not even close.

After all these years (2007-2013) of absolutely wonderful treatment by the MSM why wouldn't these asshats decide they could pretty well do as they please and get away with it? Its the bane of progressives everywhere - that tendency to overreach. And in this case it was a very BIG overreach. Apparently even the MSM has its limits.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am with you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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