Franklin Center May Have Been On IRS Hit List
In the wake of the IRS scandal, it was discovered that the Leadership Institute was targeted with what is being described as a "yearlong harassing audit." The Leadership Institute trains conservative activists across the country. The Washington Free Beacon's CJ Ciaramella cited Morton Blackwell, LI's founder and president, yesterday saying,
[T]he IRS’ indefensible behavior is worse than we first thought, as it targeted both new and existing conservative groups in politically motivated attacks...fortunately my Leadership Institute had the resources to stand up to the government’s bullying and intimidation. Other groups, including grassroots and tea party groups we’ve helped train, did not.
In the end, the IRS accepted the Leadership Institute's 2008 tax return, which was under review, but not after the non-profit spent $50,000 in legal fees. Yet, it seems the Franklin Center, which trains citizen journalists, was also on the IRS' hit list.
The Franklin Center's Watchdog project reported on May 15 that there was an unusual jump in IRS.gov and EOP.gov traffic to their site from December of 2012 through May of 2013. Franklin Center staff went back to see if they correlated with Drudge hits, or something of that nature, but couldn't come to anything conclusive regarding the spike. What is interesting is that on December 14th, 2012, the IRS visited their site 111 times, despite the average of one or two visits a day. The second highest day for page views from the IRS is twenty.
Will Swaim and Ryan Ekvall, who wrote the piece on Watchdog, mentioned that:
according to Google analytics, the IRS generated 456 unique visitors, between January 2009 and May 2013. The report notes 552 visits and 709 page views from the IRS. Most of the traffic occurred between the second half of 2012 and this week.
The analytics show 60 unique visitors and 84 page views to Watchdog.org from eop.gov, the Executive Office of the President, between December 2009 and May 2013.
The IRS has apologized in recent days for targeting conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status. Republicans are calling for criminal prosecutions, and the FBI is now investigating.
The source of White House visits, eop.gov, redirects visitors to the official White House website. A message on that redirect reads, “You have requested a page on EOP.gov and have been redirected here. EOP.gov is a domain operated by the Executive Office of the President. WhiteHouse.gov is the public-facing website for the EOP.”
Oh, this scandal reeks of Nixon.