Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is wondering aloud that many Americans are thinking: The IRS targeting of Tea Party groups running up to the 2012 election may be the proverbial tip of its abusive iceberg.
“What I would tell you, is our whistleblower side is lit up,” Coburn said Thursday on the news channel. “And I got a phone call yesterday and one of the things I want to know is, everybody that contributed to Romney, I want to know what their audit rate was because the indications out of Oklahoma are right now is if you happened to be a conservative and wealthy and gave to Romney, you had an audit where you’d never gotten an audit before.
“And so there are a lot of questions that still have to be answered,” Coburn said. “Maybe that’s untrue but that’s certainly the implication from people that are calling me from Oklahoma.”
Coburn’s comments come as Congress is investigating the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny. The IRS has apologized for inappropriately flagging groups for additional scrutiny because they had certain words in their titles, such as Tea Party.
There’s been no evidence the IRS targeted people for audits based on their political donations, though some donors to Romney have drawn a link.
Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) in a floor speech last week also said that a number of his constituents spoke of being audited during the 2012 presidential campaign for the first time.
And then, there’s what happened to Catherine Engelbrecht. The election security advocate was subjected to a flurry of inquisitions by multiple executive branch agencies.
- Her application was put through questioning similar to inquiries other groups have reported, including questions about her political aspirations, the groups’ Facebook posts, etc.
- She was subjected to four rounds of IRS questioning.
- Her family business was audited by the IRS, as were her family’s personal finances.
- Her business was subjected to Occupational Health and Safety Administration audits. OSHA found only minor problems, and subjected the Engelbrechts’ business to $25,000 in fines.
- Her business was subjected to an unannounced audit by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigations inquired about someone who had visited one of Engelbrecht’s meetings, and subsequently called up the Engelbrechts just to ask “how they were doing.”
How does this happen to a small business owner who, prior to becoming politically active, had never been in trouble with the law before?