American Elephants

The Scandal Heats Up, And it Will Get Worse. by The Elephant's Child

There is far more to the IRS scandal than just the attempt to delay or deny tax exempt status to tea party groups and other conservative groups before the 2012 election, as if that weren’t bad enough. The IRS evaluates the applications of nonprofits for 5019(c)(3) or 501 (c)(4) status. A 501(c)(4) organization can engage in political campaign activity, but that activity must not be the main focus of the organization.  The application of these standards opens the door to discriminatory enforcement.

In the current scandal, the IRS would routinely hold up such applications, sometimes for years, while making demands on the applicant, that were really irrelevant to the status applied for. At the same time, similar applications from liberal groups sailed through with quick approval.  

Separately, the IRS targeted conservatives for audits, especially high-profile donors to conservative causes. There seems to be significant evidence to support that belief. Where the conservative is a wealthy businessman with a complicated tax return, it’s hard to prove that the audit was politically motivated.

Last year, Frank VanderSloot made a sizeable donation to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney. He signed on as a national co-chairman of Romney’s finance committee. And then the political attack began. The intimidation began in February 2010 when VanderSloot was the subject of hit pieces in left-wing Mother Jones, and by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. Mr. VanderSloot was surprised by the negative portrayal of Melaleuca, the company he has overseen for more than 25 years.

In April, the Obama campaign named VanderSloot to the first presidential “enemies list” in years. They suggested that eight Romney donors had “less than reputable records. Quite a few have been on the wrong side of the law, others have made profits at the expense of so many Americans.” Their crime was donations to the Romney campaign. In June, the IRS notified VanderSloot that he and his wife would face a tax audit, then two weeks later, the Labor Department informed VanderSloot that it was auditing workers employed at his cattle ranch.  

The third IRS part of the scandal is illegal or improper leaking of confidential tax data. We know they leaked pending applications for 501(c) status to the left-wing media group that publicized them, because ProPublica stepped forward to admit it. The National Organization for Marriage has alleged that the IRS leaked confidential NOM data in order to damage the Romney campaign. Their confidential financial documents were leaked to their rival Human Rights Campaign, and published in the Huffington Post. They have published documents that showed the leaked confidential information did not come from a “whistleblower,” but came directly from the IRS. They will sue the IRS for the leak.

President Obama is “concerned”, “outraged,” at the “insufficient oversight” and “lack of managerial review” at the IRS. The IRS Commissioner has stepped down, and he clearly hopes that we can move on. This strikes me as pure Chicago-style politics brought to the nation’s capitol by the Chicago crew in the White House, Obama, Jarrett, Axelrod, Daley. The IG has found that of the 296 applications filed by conservative groups, more than half were still in limbo, many having been on hold for more than three years. It really doesn’t seem to be a random bureaucratic snafu.

ADDENDUM: About that IRS Commissioner stepping down. It seems that his assignment ended in early June, and so he’s just leaving a couple of weeks early. No big deal. The IRS Inspector General’s report is characterized as “a whitewash”. “These allegations are serious — that there was an effort to bring the power of the federal government to bear on those the administration disagreed with, in the middle of a heated national election”, said Mitch McConnell.

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“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”

The words that tradition says were spoken by Henry II that supposedly led to the assassination of Thomas Becket.

Obama is constantly “outraged” at the “inappropriate actions”, and swears that he’s going to get to the bottom of it all. And he knew nothing about any of it. Nothing! (sometimes I’m convinced we elected Sgt. Schultz (from “Hogan’s Heroes”) as president)

Even if I were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt (which I am not) that he had no idea that any of this was going on, are we to think that this “smartest man in the room” wouldn’t recognize that behavior like this always comes from the example given by those at the top? That his overheated rhetoric would cause some to justify bad behavior?

“Get out there and punish your enemies”.

Obama has kept trying through his years as president to compare himself favorably to other presidents. He usually comes up wanting. Now he’s acting like Nixon, and might even be better at it. Nixon had “enemies”. And Nixon claimed that he knew nothing as well.


Comment by Lon Mead

Yes, I’ve thought of that line often. I have been inclined to go along with Richard Epstein’s analysis of Obama. He knew Obama at U. Chicago, and through his next door neighbor who was a close friend of Obamas. He said Obama does not change his mind. If he once believed that windmills are the coming thing, he believes that today, ditto the rising seas. He imitates an intellectual, and plays a wicked game of intellectual poker. I think that he, like so many on the left restricts his interest to those who agree with him, and really doesn’t know much about those who disagree with him, nor does he care. Epstein said that he would never participate in the lunchtime debates at Chicago, which was unfortunate for he never had the experience of putting his ideas out there to be shot down. He is a loner, and does not meet with staff or cabinet. He prefers to have them give him a sheet with three choices and rationale for each, and he’ll pick the one he wants. Which kind of denies those who think he is just evil, or trying to wreck the country. The biographies written after his administration is done are going to be very interesting.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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