They’re right. The New York Times says so:
Overseen by a revolving cast of midlevel managers, stalled by miscommunication with I.R.S. lawyers and executives in Washington and confused about the rules they were enforcing, the Cincinnati specialists flagged virtually every application with Tea Party in its name. But their review went beyond conservative groups: more than 400 organizations came under scrutiny, including at least two dozen liberal-leaning ones and some that were seemingly apolitical.
You read it here first — unless there are a lot of people who read the New York Times. Daily Kos mentioned an article at Bloomberg that also referenced the IRS auditing liberal groups:
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.
Outrageous. Something should be done about this immediately. We must give equal victim status to liberals in this scandal. Justice demands no less.
Except no one cares very much what letter was sent to liberals or conservatives, nor does it really matter that out of more than 400 groups targeted by the IRS, about 5% appear to have been liberal.
Liberals are missing the point; it isn’t numbers, it’s the criteria used to single out applications for special scrutiny.
There were no key words like “tea party,” “patriot,” or “9/12 Project” that the IRS used to target certain liberal applications. “Liberal,” progressive,” and any other left-sounding words weren’t used to scrutinize applications.
Nor have we heard any complaints from liberal groups about the IRS asking for reading lists, donors’ names, the content of prayers, or clips from all mentions in the press of a particular group.
NPR tried its best to dismiss the IRS scandal by attempting to show that both sides had problems with the agency:
The IRS has admitted it flagged applications from groups with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names. But applications from other groups were closely scrutinized as well.
An Austin, Texas-based progressive group, Progress Texas, was one of them. Its executive director, Ed Espinoza, says it took almost a year and a half for the IRS to review the application from his organization. The process included answering a detailed questionnaire.
“It was nine pages and 21 questions, and inside those 21 questions, there were additional questions,” Espinoza says. “So it was fairly extensive, and it was fairly thorough.”
In 2010, some 1,700 applications for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status came into the Cincinnati office. That number nearly doubled by 2012. Yet according to the , just one person was originally given the task of sifting through the applications deemed politically sensitive. Marcus Owens, a former IRS official, says that’s a lot of work for one staffer.
“These were applications that were identified because they were likely to have issues that were complex, which means that they were going to take more time,” Owens says. “So it seems like that would be more than one person could easily handle.”
Another application that seemingly got caught up in the backlog came from a group of journalists in Chicago. The Chicago News Cooperative provided news for the Midwest edition of The New York Times. The co-op also sought tax-exempt status. Veteran journalist James O’Shea, a former managing editor of The Chicago Tribune, was in charge.
“There were political organizations trying to get these exemptions, and I think the IRS was concerned — and probably appropriately so — that some of these news organizations were really political organizations,” he says, “and so they were examining that, and we just got caught up in that.”
For more than two years, the Chicago News Cooperative waited for an IRS ruling. But without tax-exempt status, foundation support dried up, and the cooperative went out of business.
Aside from taking out the world’s smallest violin to mourn the passing of a liberal non-profit, what exactly is the relevance of including this group and lumping it in with conservative groups — including pro-life and other social-issue groups?
The answer is false equivalency. It isn’t relevant despite the effort to make it so. There is no comparison in how the IRS looked at conservative and liberal groups, and the left should give up the effort.