American Elephants

“Don’t Know,” “Not Me,” “Not to The Best of My Memory” by The Elephant's Child

Did Barack Obama personally order the IRS to attack Republican groups, deny them
501 (c)(4) status, get their names and the names of everyone even slightly associated with them —The committees want to know how far the rot reaches. Is this only recent? And who ordered what done?

Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal points out that the IRS scandal started at the top. The president is fully in denial mode, noting that the IRS is an “independent” agency, but it isn’t necessary for President Obama to pick up the phone. In full view for five years, Obama has publicly suggested that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds. He has publicly called out by name political opponents he would like to see pressured into invisibility.

On Aug. 21, 2008, the Conservative American Issues Project ran an ad highlighting the ties between candidate Obama and Bill Ayers, formerly of the Weather Underground. The Obama campaign and supporters were furious, and they pressured TV stations to pull the ad — a common-enough tactic in such ad spats.

What came next was not common. Bob Bauer, general counsel for the campaign (and later general counsel for the White House), on the same day wrote to the criminal division of the Justice Department, demanding an investigation into AIP, “its officers and directors,” and its “anonymous donors.” Mr. Bauer claimed that the nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), was committing a “knowing and willful violation” of election law, and wanted “action to enforce against criminal violations.”…

In early August 2008, the New York Times trumpeted the creation of a left-wing group a(a 501(c)(4) called Accountable America. …the group—as the story explained —would start by sending “warning ” letters to 10,000 GOP donors, “hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions.” The letters would alert “right-wing groups to a variety of potential dangers, including legal trouble, public exposure and watchdog groups digging through their lives.”

Sen. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee on Sept. 26, 2010, wrote to the IRS commissioner Dough Shulman asking him to survey major 501(c)(4) organizations to ensure that political campaign activity was not the organizations primary activity, and investigate their major donors.

Two years later, on Feb. 16, 2012, seven Democratic Senators (Bennet, Franken, Merkley, Schumer, Shaheen, Udall and Whitehouse wrote to Shulman to ask if the IRS is investigating whether political groups were improperly posing as “social welfare organizations” to receive the 501(c)(4) status, and asked the IRS to “impose a strict cap on the amount of political spending by tax-exempt, nonprofit groups,” and prevent them from “abusing the tax code.”

“And 2010 was the year Democrats went full-bore pressuring the IRS to investigate nonprofit politicking which resulted in the IRS targeting Tea Party and other nonprofit applicants who were ideological opponents. Letters from 10 high-profile Democrats…pressured the IRS to investigate nonprofit politicking, even threatening legislation to change IRS standards if the IRS didn’t act.”

“The IRS is behaving “passively,” complained Carl Levin to Shulman in July 2012, adding “How long after a complaint to the IRS does a compliance review begin?” Sen. Levin also asked Shulman to look into a dozen groups, including Americans for Prosperity, 60 Plus Association, Patriot Majority USA and Club for Growth.”

Former commissioner Doug Shulman testified last Wednesday that back in March 2012, there was “absolutely” no special targeting of conservative groups going on. “At no time, to the best of my memory, was I ever given the impression that these [IRS employees] were only [looking closely] at conservative groups.

So there you go. Nobody knows anything, Everybody denies everything. Your Government at work.

ADDENDUM: I should perhaps mention that Democrats profess to be extremely concerned that anything groups like the Tea Party do, should be concerned with “social welfare activities” and not anything political, especially not political fundraising. The amusing part is that the Center for American Progress has both 501 (c)(3) and 501 (c)(4) organizations devoted to fundraising from social welfare organizations like the Democracy Alliance. And the Center for American Progress is certainly not political, are they? Nah.

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