After the IRS abuse scandal broke, Progress Texas stepped forward to claim that its own application to the IRS had drawn extra scrutiny similar, too. Some liberals used that claim to argue that the IRS abuse wasn’t partisan after all.
Progress Texas took things even a step farther, and stated that two-thirds of the groups that the IRS abused weren’t even conservative. So, no scandal at all.
That, it turns out, was not true, according to PolitiFact.
We asked how Progress Texas concluded that most of the groups were not conservative. Political director Phillip Martin told us by email that the statement was based on a May 12, 2013, Washington Post news story about a leaked report from the U.S. Treasury inspector general that the government released two days later.
The Post story said that according to the report, “Of the 298 groups selected for special scrutiny … 72 had ‘tea party’ in their title, 13 had ‘patriot’ and 11 had ‘9/12.’ ” That equaled 96 groups, Martin said, or 32.2 percent of the declared 298.
Were the other 202 groups nonconservative? Neither the report nor the story described those groups, and Progress Texas did not reply to our follow-up requests for relevant information.
Progress Texas has twice said that two-thirds of the groups whose applications for tax-exempt status were scrutinized by the IRS were not conservative.
The group’s fraction appears to be an unsupported assumption tied to a government report saying that 96 of 298 IRS-scrutinized organizations, or about a third, had “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names. The report listed other criteria the IRS used, some of which appeared to be aimed at conservatives.
But the report has no information on the political makeup of the other groups, and we see no other indications that their political leanings have been authoritatively summed up or individually revealed, though the IRS has said the scrutinized groups without “tea party” in their names reflected “all political views,” which presumably would fold in liberals to moderates to conservatives.
Progress Texas’ claim shakes out as incorrect and, given the lack of backup documentation, ridiculous. Pants on Fire!
Whether Progress Texas lied, as per PolitiFact’s finding, as part of a larger pushback and distraction campaign or on its own initiative is not clear.