Biggest Stories of 2013: IRS Targets Conservative and Tea Party Groups

Throughout New Year’s Eve, we’ll be going through the 10 biggest political stories of 2013 as selected by United Liberty’s contributors. Don’t forget to chime in on the biggest stories of the year on our Facebook page.


Daniel Webster once said: “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, the power to destroy.” In 2013 the American people learned that no truer words were ever spoken. On May 10, 2013, Lois Lerner admitted at an American Bar Association meeting that certain political organizations’ tax exempt status applications were being delayed during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns due to additional scrutiny based on ideology.

As early as August 2010 the IRS distributed a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) memo for groups with names like “Tea Party.” By June of 2010, the BOLO was expanded to include names like “Patriot” and “9/12 Project” along with groups with policy positions concerned about government spending, the debt, and taxation. Groups which educated the public about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights were also targeted. The IRS requested that these groups provide reading materials, donor lists, Facebook postings, meeting minutes, and even the content of prayers for those groups which opened or closed meetings with a prayer!

As these facts started to see the light of day, the Obama administration tried to argue that the scandal was limited to a few low level IRS agents in the Cincinnati office but subsequent congressional hearings revealed otherwise. In May 2013, the House Ways and Means Committee hearings started heating up with the Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller’s resignation (and his testimony 2 days later) and the testimony of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) J. Russell George.  On May 22, Lois Lerner pleaded the fifth after issuing a short statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

None of this stopped members of the administration, Democrats in congress, and lapdogs in the media (especially MSNBC) from downplaying the scandal. On June 25, House Democrats claimed that Progressive groups were also BOLO targets and the allies in the media dutifully reported these claims as rock solid facts.

The new acting-IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel claimed that the BOLO was applied broadly to include all political groups but in a letter to Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Inspector General J. Russell George threw cold water on that claim: “From our audit work, we did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled ‘progressives,’ were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited.”

The IG further explained that while 30 percent of organizations using the words “progress” or “progressive” were given extra scrutiny, “100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit.”

This letter came just days after Press Secretary Jay Carney and the president himself called the IRS scandal a “phony scandal.” As late as December 5, President Obama told his sycophant friend Chris Mathews the same thing in so many words.

This coming from the same man who repeatedly said “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.”

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.