March 10, 2014
GEORGE WILL: The IRS’s behavior taxes credulity.
The most intrusive and potentially most punitive federal agency has been politicized; the IRS has become an appendage of Barack Obama’s party. Furthermore, congruent with exhortations from some congressional Democrats, it is intensifying its efforts to suffocate groups critical of progressives, by delaying what once was the swift, routine granting of tax-exempt status.
So, the IRS, far from repenting of its abusive behavior, is trying to codify the abuses. It hopes to nullify with new rules the existing legal right of 501(c)(4) groups, many of which are conservative, to participate in politics. The proposed rules have drawn more than 140,000 comments, most of them complaints, some from liberals wary of IRS attempts to broadly define “candidate-related political activity” and to narrow the permissible amount of this.
Lerner is, so far, the face of this use of government to punish political adversaries. She knows what her IRS unit did and how it intersects with the law, and for a second time she has exercised her constitutional right to remain silent rather than risk self-incrimination. The public has a right to make reasonable inferences from her behavior.
And from Obama’s. After calling the IRS behavior “outrageous,” he now says there is not a “smidgen” of evidence of anything to be outraged about. He knows this even though the supposed investigation of the IRS behavior has not been completed, or perhaps even begun. The person he chose to investigate his administration is an administration employee and a generous donor to his campaigns. . . .
Speaking of questions: Can anyone identify a Democratic Senate candidate whose tax records were leaked, as Christine O’Donnell’s were when she was the Republican candidate in Delaware in 2010? Is it a coincidence that in January 2011, after Catherine Engelbrecht requested tax-exempt status for two conservative groups she founded in Texas — King Street Patriots and True the Vote — the Engelbrecht family business was notified of its first IRS audit? Does James Comey wonder why (this was before he became FBI director), five months after Engelbrecht’s tax-exemption request, FBI agents appeared seeking information about attendees at the King Street Patriots meetings? Were five subsequent FBI contacts “checking in” for “updates” on the group’s activities really necessary? Why did the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives show a sudden intrusive interest in the Engelbrechts’ business, which has nothing to do with alcohol or tobacco or firearms or explosives?
The whole thing stinks to high heaven. And so does the press’s unwillingness to investigate.