The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which is perhaps the most hated bureaucratic institution in the country, admitted that it had targeted organizations for extra scrutiny last year simply because they had the terms “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names:
The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
White House spokesman Jay Carney declared it was indeed inappropriate for the IRS to target tea party groups. But he brushed aside questions about whether the White House itself would investigate.
Instead, Carney said the administration expects a thorough investigation by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration. The inspector general has been looking into the issue since last summer, and his report is expected to come out next week, the IG’s office said Friday.
For more than a year, Tea Party groups have complained about being singled out by the IRS because of their politicial views. The IRS, of course, denied the allegation for more than a year. An IRS official said that the discrimination started with low-level employees in its Cincinnati office. While the official apologized for the harassment, she denied that there was any politicial connection.
Tea Party groups have rejected the curiously timed apology (it came in the middle of a White House press conference where very direct questions were being asked by reporters about Benghazi). Republicans in Congress are demanding answers and promising hearings on the issue.
This scandal could have ramifications for ObamaCare, notes the National Journal, especially as the IRS is illegally planning to tax businesses in states that have rejected the health insurance exchanges that are one of the central pieces of the law.
They may be apologizing for it, but more than a year after the IRS denied that these groups were being targeted, why would anyone believe for a second that they weren’t singling them out because of their political views?