Mary Katherine Ham rounds up 10 of the crazy things that the IRS sought from conservative and Tea Party groups during its abusive phase. I’ll focus on a few of those.
1. The IRS wanted every bit of information that these organizations had on their members.
Much of that information would allow the IRS to identify individual members of the targeted groups. Not just staff and donors, but members.
2. The IRS wanted information on the groups’ past and present employees and their relationships, with a special focus on familial relationships.
3. Just in case Point 2 wasn’t clear enough, yes, family members must be included.
4. Everything you turn over to the IRS will go public.
The information that the IRS sought went well beyond what it could reasonably have been seeking in the name of determining whether the groups qualified for the tax exemption. It was seeking enough information to build out a full network of every one of the conservative groups and be able to database them and cross-link them with each other. That the information would have been public is a tell of one place it would have ended up: In the computers of the data-driven Obama campaign and its allies. Anyone else seeking it would probably have had a tougher time getting their hands on it, but the Obama campaign, the Media Matters crew, any Democrat opposition researcher — they would have gotten it.
Based on the Obama campaign’s love of all things data and its behavior toward Romney donors, it’s pretty clear that gathering the information through the IRS was not the end game, it was a stop on the way to an end: Public exposure, humiliation and attack against the individuals that the IRS had scooped up on these forms — donors, staff, members, and their families. Secondarily, anyone thinking about donating to or working with any of the targeted groups would have to think twice about the consequences that might follow their exercise of their free speech rights. There are a lot of people out there with messy divorces, bankruptcies and other skeletons in their closets. Just ask Jack Ryan how sensitive Obama and company are with unflattering private information.
It’s clear from the questions above that while the IRS may not have had an enemies list when its intrusive questioning regime began in 2010, it was building one, and a very large and sophisticated one at that.