By: James Simpson
As Congressional Democrats scurry for cover in the wake of the growing scandal surrounding IRS harassment of tea party and conservative groups, President Obama announced on Wednesday that acting IRS chief, Steven T. Miller would resign. As with Benghazi and seemingly everything else these days, Obama claims to have known nothing about it. Too much time at the golf course no doubt.
But the dam is bursting on this story. Every day the number of affected groups grows as more and more is uncovered. Today it was revealed for example that the decades-old Leadership Institute was audited in 2011. To defend itself, the institute had to shell out over $50,000 in legal fees. Run by stalwart Reagan friend Morton Blackwell, the LI has an impeccable reputation. Of course the IRS found nothing.
During the recall of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker in 2012, a group called “Verify the Recall” hastily formed to check the 1 million recall petitions turned in at the last minute by union organizers. Working with True the Vote, this organization evaluated every one of those petitions in little more than a month. Other groups, including this writer, publicized their herculean efforts.
The IRS apparently didn’t like this. The North East Tarrant Texas Tea Party (NETTTP) never told the IRS they were working on the recall, yet IRS questioned them about their relationship with VTR. True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrect said, “There is no explaining this away. It is a reprehensible abuse of power by the IRS to ask one organization for information about the activities of a separate organization while holding their non-profit status hostage.”
Similarly, in 2010, the IRS demanded that an Ohio group, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law explain in detail its “involvement with the Tea Party.” The Center provides legal counsel to Ohioans whose constitutional rights have been aggrieved, including tea party organizations and individuals. While it ultimately received its tax-exempt status, the Center said that, “IRS harassment of liberty-oriented groups, and intent to root out “tea party” activities, even through non-tea party sources such as 1851, has been in full force for a minimum of three years.”
The list of offended parties grows daily, and while Congressional Democrats are puffing and strutting about this “outrage,” many of these same politicians demanded the IRS investigate tea party and other conservative groups. That paragon of virtue, Senator Carl Levin, repeatedly demanded that the IRS look into the tax-exempt status of conservative groups in the run up to the 2012 election. Meanwhile, Senator Max Baucus, called the scandal, “an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust.” But back in 2010, when his Finance Committee asked the IRS to examine conservative groups, he dismissed Republican objections as “groundless.”
IRS bureaucrats are being blamed for this scandal, but the fact is that bureaucrats do not engage in this kind of potentially criminal behavior unless forced to do so by political leaders. There is simply too much to lose and nothing to gain, regardless their political leanings.
When however, a bureaucrat is elevated to a political position, as was Steven Miller, things change. Then, he may feel more latitude to take liberties. Even then however, there must be some kind of signal. It may not have come from Obama directly, but there is little doubt that Democratic leaders were all on the same page.
Miller was a career IRS bureaucrat. Significantly, he was formerly commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, which oversees licensing of tax-exempt organizations. Miller was the right man for the job. While not denying tax-exempt status outright, his division made it so difficult that many organizations quit. Those that stuck with it however, finally got their approvals, but for most, they came after the 2012 elections.
So this was the game all along. In 2010, Democrats got what former Florida Rep. Allen West called a “southern-fried butt whipping!” This was largely the result of effective Tea Party activism. Obama and the Democrats wanted to be sure there wasn’t a repeat performance in 2012. Through the corrupt and criminal use of the IRS, they got their way. These groups are now having no problem getting approvals. For once House Speaker John Boehner got it right: these people need jail!