The New York Times reports: “The Treasury Department’s inspector general told senior Treasury officials in June 2012 he was auditing the Internal Revenue Service’s screening of politically active organizations seeking tax exemptions, disclosing for the first time on Friday that Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year… J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, [testified] that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel of his audit on June 4, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin ‘shortly thereafter.'” Both of the Treasury officials notified were appointed by Obama and constitute part of his Administration.
The IRS deliberately chose not to reveal that it had illegally used the tax code and abused its authority to target conservative groups until after the 2012 presidential election. The IRS commissioner “has known for at least a year that this was going on and that this had happened,” reported NBC’s Lisa Myers.
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The Daily Caller and the Washington Post report that the IRS approved charitable status for a foundation run by President Obama’s brother and named for his father in about one month and gave it tax-exempt status retroactively back to 2009. Meanwhile, conservative groups were put on hold for up to two and three years. Even more offensive if the fact that the Obama-named charity has been identified by at least one watchdog group as a sham-charity that was operating for several years outside the law. While legitimate conservative groups were targeted and put on hold for one, two and even three years.
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Shockingly, Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS official who was the head of the IRS division that targeted conservative tax-exempt organizations has been given a promotion and now heads the IRS office responsible for IRS enforcement of ObamaCare.
Equally troubling is that Ms. Ingram received $103,390 in bonuses from 2009 to 2012 while heading up the division that systematically targeted conservative groups. Even if you believe Ingram bears no criminal responsibility for the grotesque violations of law that she oversaw, she is clearly an incompetent manager – whose failure to properly lead, to effectively correct, or even to honestly disclose the truth – and completely unworthy of her job and salary at the IRS and certainly not worthy of even a dime of bonus.
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Even the way the story broke was disingenuous. A week ago, Lois Lerner, head of the tax exempt division of the Internal Revenue Service made a bombshell revelation – that the IRS had targeted conservative groups and subjected them to additional scrutiny. This news story came out of the blue at an American Bar Association conference during a question and answer period. It wasn’t a panel about IRS abuses, so many in the audience were surprised and even baffled by the revelation. But it turns out that the revelation was not the spontaneous admission that it appeared to be. Instead, it was a planted question and part of a pre-planned strategy for the IRS to publicly release the information that it had been hiding for more than a year now that they were safely past the election.
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Shockingly, the acting IRS Commissioner, Steven Miller claims that the targeting of conservatives was “not illegal.” He said it was a mistake and that it was poor customer service — leading rational people to conclude that Miller believes that abuse of the tax code is impolite, rude and even inappropriate, but not illegal. Since the IRS can violate the law and abuse its authority and hide its actions for years from both Congress and the public, and then resolve the matter by simply admitting it made “a mistake” and offering a “apology,” can taxpayers also resolve tax disputes with the IRS by simply admitting having made “a mistake” and offering an apology?
Perhaps Mr. Miller can answer this question: If the systematic targeting of conservative groups wasn’t based on partisanship and politics, what was it based on? Miller tried to claim it was simply an attempt to streamline the process. But that explanation does not make any sense at all. If Miller’s explanation were true, then there would have been similar words used to target liberal groups and liberal groups would have been slowed down on a similar basis. However, such is not the case. So the IRS needs to provide a more coherent and honest answer.
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The Daily Caller reports that a number of Democratic Senators, including Chuck Schummer, Al Franken and Max Baucus called upon the IRS to target conservative groups in 2012.
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The most important questions yet to be answered, include:
(1) Why did the IRS affirmatively mislead Congress about what was going on?
(2) Why did the IRS hide the scandal until after the election was passed? What impact did the IRS believe the scandal would have on the election? Why did that matter to the IRS?
(3) Why did the IRS originally claim that this scandal was isolated to two rogue employees in a single IRS office in Cincinnati Ohio, when we know now that many, many employees were involved, in numerous IRS offices, including in Washington, DC, and that they targeted hundreds of conservative groups?
(4) How can the IRS claim that it was wrong to do what it did, but it was not politically motivated and not illegal? If it wasn’t politics that motivated the IRS to target conservative groups, what was the motivation?
(5) Did the IRS share any of confidential taxpayer information with anyone, including the White House or Obama presidential campaign officials or allies?
(6) When did the Obama White House or the Obama campaign become aware of the IRS illegal targeting? Was the White House or Obama campaign part of the decision to hide the facts from Congress and the public until after the election?
(7) Who was responsible for the systematic targeting of conservative groups? Who became aware of it, but helped hide it from Congress and the public or remained silent about the clear violation of law? Who leaked confidential taxpayer information to high ranking Obama campaign officials and Obama political allies during the 2012 election campaign? What will be done, beyond firing the offending parties, to those who violated the law and breached the public’s trust?