'The IRS: First they Came for the Tea Partiers, Then They Came for the Jews'

"Whoa: Did the IRS also target Jewish groups for ‘extra-special attention’?," Twitchy asks:

The IRS admits to targeting conservative groups for additional review and laughably claims the witch hunt wasn’t “motivated by political bias.” What will its math-challenged spokeswoman Lois Lerner say about allegations that the IRS gave “extra-special attention to the tax-exempt status of some Jewish groups for political reason”?

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The pro-Israel group Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS in 2010, claiming an IRS agent said the organization would come under extra scrutiny because it’s “connected to Israel.”

In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies."

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The Jewish Press reports:

The IRS even took the position that because Israel is a country “where terrorism happens,” the service was justified in taking additional time to determine whether Z STREET was involved with funding terrorism.

The first hearing in Z STREET v IRS is reportedly scheduled for July.

And that's in addition to John Podhoretz's post at Commentary yesterday, in which he wrote:

As it happens, I know something about the chilling effect of an IRS investigation into a non-profit’s 501 (c)-3 status because in 2009, COMMENTARY (a non-profit) received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service threatening the revocation of the institution’s standing as a non-profit due to a claim that on our website we had crossed the line in the 2008 election from analysis to explicit advocacy of the candidacy of John McCain for president. (Non-profits are not permitted to endorse candidates.) The charge was false—all we had done was reprint a speech delivered at a COMMENTARY event by then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman in which he had endorsed McCain.

Taking away a non-profit’s ability to receive tax-exempt charitable contributions is equivalent to a death sentence.

We were told by counsel that, should the IRS rule against us, we would have almost no recourse. You might think free speech rights would trump any such effort, but of course no one is challenging your speech rights, merely finding that what you say runs afoul of laws dealing with non-profits. You have no constitutional right to non-profit status, after all.

Disproving the false charge, which we did eventually in part by literally printing out the 2 million words that had appeared on this site in 2008 and sending them in many boxes to the IRS to show that the words in which Lieberman said he was supporting McCain were essentially a part per million, cost us tens of thousands of dollars and dozens upon dozens of hours of lost work time. The inquiry, which never should have been brought, was closed. But talking to lawyers and strategizing and the like in such a circumstance make the experience an ordeal that leaves you a bit shell-shocked—which is, of course, the point.

Now, I had assumed that a hostile reader or hostile liberal group was responsible for the IRS inquiry into COMMENTARY, but there is a salient detail in today’s story that makes me think something else might have been at work. IRS official Lerner said the effort against the conservative groups in 2012 came from “low-level” officials in the Cincinnati office. The investigation into COMMENTARY came out of the Columbus office. Is there something going on inside the IRS offices in Ohio?

Who will find out?

"Well whaddataknow," Iowahawk tweets today. "Turns out 'low level IRS employees in Cincinnati' was IRS Chief Counsel in 2011." (Another Iowahawk tweet today was the basis for our headline above.)

More after the pagebreak.

Would President Obama sic the IRS on his political opponents? Well, he does have a rather nasty habit of making "jokes" that turn out to be anything butThe Virginian blog notes today:

Glenn Reynolds linked to an article in the Wall Street Journal Tax Audits Are No Laughing Matter;the subhead is “A president shouldn't even joke about abusing IRS power.”Reynolds commented:

Remember, Obama joked about auditing his enemies in 2009. At the time, I warned about the damage to the “trust and voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends,” but Obama didn’t get much pushback elsewhere. Now, however, people need to be fired, and most likely prosecuted, to drive home the appropriate lesson. And Obama himself needs to be taken to task. The Post editorial is just a start.

Here’s what I have noticed about Obama’s “jokes.” They are a way of disarming the opposition by mocking them. If you joke about sending the IRS after your opponents, it makes it much harder for people the IRS is going after to get other to pay attention. They are going to be laughed at and ridiculed as conspiracy theorists. One of the Tea Party groups that had trouble getting a tax exempt status is in Richmond, Virginia. They complained but got no help from anyone in the press or in government.

Read the whole thing, to coin an Insta-phrase.

"How big of a deal is abusing the tax system to gain an advantage over the political opposition?, Ed Morrissey asks today in his post at Hot Air on the Obama-era IRS targeting conservative groups. This big a deal: "Don’t forget that it was one of the charges in the Watergate articles of impeachment."

But if anything, Obama's enemies list is far larger than Nixon's.

Update: As with most of the networks, ABC has multiple ties to the Democratic Party, such as former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos, and the sister of the network's news division president who's currently serving as an aide to Obama. Fortunately, though, ABC isn't letting these familial connections get in the way of breaking this story wide open.  Nightline's Terry Moran wrote a tweet attacking "A truly Nixonian abuse of power by the Obama administration: IRS Apologizes for Targeting Conservative Groups." See, ABC can now say it's is on the case:

This isn't the first time Moran has tweeted about a case conservatives cared about and then failed to cover it on his TV show. On April 12, 2013, the host tweeted, "Kermit Gosnell is probably the most successful serial killer in the history of the world."

Nightline and the ABC network have never mentioned Gosnell, charged with murdering four babies, or the gory details of the abortionist's trial. Not once.

Most Americans don't have their own TV show. Moran does. Perhaps rather than lamenting stories online, he should actually cover them.

Why start now?

Related: IRS targets "expanded to groups 'educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights,'" Prof. William A. Jacobson writes at his Legal Insurrection blog.

No wonder the Times is burying this story, considering the op-ed they chose to wrap up 2012.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post asks if yesterday's news regarding the IRS could be considered a Friday night news dump:

Did some officials hope never to reveal this wrongdoing? Did others hope it could quickly get lost in the weekend news cycle? Misguided, if so. We hope to hear Democratic leaders as well as Republican ones loudly saying so.

Given that this is the paper that mentioned George Allen's idiotic "Macaca" gaffe in 112 articles during the fall of 2006, the impact of these current revelations is ultimately up to the Washington Post, isn't it?