The IRS Scandal, In Context

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The FBI has launched an investigation into IRS agents targeting certain conservative 501(c)(4) groups that had words like "tea party" and "patriot" in their name. Some see a politically-motivated scandal, some see efforts to reign in improper use of the "social welfare" designation. NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley discusses the mounting pressure on the Obama administration and what comes next.

Comments [38]

" . . . Second, the data show that there was no surge in 501c(4) applications by Spring 2010, around which time the IRS decided to target conservative applicants — in fact, the number of applications declined sharply between fiscal 2009 and 2010. So the idea that a sudden surge of Citizens United-inspired non-profit applications created the need for this extra scrutiny is a completely false one. (When this fact came up in the hearing, Miller played dumb and pretended he hadn’t read this part of the Inspector General’s report.)

"Third, the groups that were targeted mostly do not even remotely fit the profile huge “dark money” actors that Democrats associate with Citizens United. The Associated Press studied tax returns for 93 of them only to find that they had little money and were genuinely grassroots groups — their median income (mostly from fundraising) was $16,700 per year, and their median expenses were just $12,770 — not even enough for a typical campaign ad buy. . . . "

May. 17 2013 04:11 PM

@Edward from W -

What does a link to the Ribbentrop Pact have to do with anything? Are you ADHD?

What I said is that most people that call the President 'socialist' have no idea what the definition of socialism is. Let me put it more simply. Fill in the blanks:

Under socialism, the state _______ the ________ __ __________.

May. 16 2013 03:39 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Brian, I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's death. My sympathies. (I missed the morning broadcast of the show.)

May. 16 2013 12:33 AM
Edward from w



Here is Socialism.

A Pact between Soviet Socialist Stalin and National Socialist Hitler.

May. 15 2013 02:40 PM

Was this episode purposefully made to seem like something from "The Onion"?

Democrats desperate for "good" government understandably use authoritarian methods by accident.


May. 15 2013 02:24 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

LOL.....lead items from left-of-center POLITICO.COM today -

“Scandal woes pile up”
“West Wing schooled on scandal”
“Obama's dangerous new narrative”
“D.C. turns on Obama”

D.C TURNS ON LITTLE BARRY.....oh, no!!!!!!

May. 15 2013 11:54 AM

@MC -

>>"Obama’s second term clouded
>>by a mess of controversies" - Dan Balz - WASHINGTON POST

>>LOL ... couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Balz is just writing a headline to fit into the conventional wisdom - second terms are racked by arrogance and scandals - and *you* are just carrying his water. I refused to be rolled by the Jedi mind trick as the nation was before the 2010 election.

When Obama has done something on the order of "Heckuva job, Brownie!" let me know. Until then, p*ss off.

May. 15 2013 11:49 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"Obama’s second term clouded
by a mess of controversies" - Dan Balz - WASHINGTON POST

LOL ... couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

May. 15 2013 11:33 AM

@Robert from NYC

"It's amazing that the right thinks he's a socialist, lol!"

The Right doesn't really think that Obama is socialist...They just find it useful to *call* him socialist. Ask anyone who hurls that label at BHO if they could define socialism for you. They will get it wrong.

You want Obama to be more powerful? In what way? He is President, not dictator. Those of us who believe in our governmental processes would like to see more action out of Washington but we won't. The GOP is stuck in the 'You Can't Make Me!" shtick and the people who fund and vote for them think it their patriotic duty to keep the country stuck in neutral.

You want a more powerful President, send him a Democratic congress! That is if you can overcome the gerrymandering perpetrated by the Right.

May. 15 2013 11:29 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Google: more than 59 million hits for “Obama and Nixon” and 24 million–plus for “Obama and Watergate.”

May. 15 2013 11:16 AM

@MC -

"No, it was Mark Levin of WABC and Landmark Legal Foundation. Yes, Mark, the “right wing nut” on AM radio, a former assistant prosecutor in the justice department. Shame on the Left."

Levin is a right wing least you are right about that. Using keywords like 'patriot' and 'Tea Party' to signal applications for further scrutiny is not, in itself, an indicia of guilt. Did they withhold 501(c)4 status or did they grant it? What are the numbers viz. right versus left. BTW, all of this was reported to the Bush-appointed Commissioner of the IRS in May 2012! Why is it news now when the Obama-appointed commissioner brings it to Congress? Pump up the volume...

The IRS during the Bush Administration targeted progressive groups...Where was your outrage (or Mr. Levin's outrage) then?


May. 15 2013 11:12 AM
Robert from NYC

Yes Edward, precisely my point, thanks for confirming it.

May. 15 2013 11:03 AM
Bob from Westchester, NY

According to the timeline in the Inspector General Report, the heightened scrutiny by the IRS of protest groups claiming social welfare organization status started in March 2010. Less than a month earlier, a tax protestor had crashed a small plane into the IRS office in Austin, Texas, killing a 68-year old IRS Group Manager and injuring 13 other IRS employees. Seems likely that the IRS employees in Cincinnati were more motivated by personal tragedy than by political concerns.

May. 15 2013 11:00 AM
The Truth from Becky

That's no problem Sheldon, it's dialogue - I respect your right to disagree.

May. 15 2013 10:51 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Becky - I respectfully disagree with your generalization of the Tea Party.

And even if your characterization was accurate - it's not the "responsibility" of the I.R.S. to do that type of "scrutiny."

May. 15 2013 10:46 AM

@Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

"Who would have thought that Obama would have turned into Richard Nixon, complete with an Enemies List?"

Really? BHO is comparable to RMN as metaphor only. And that metaphor is accurate only to those who have no real memory of the Nixon administration.

Nixon conspired to scuttle the Paris Peace talks to strengthen his election chances (treason) and Obama ran on and got us out of Iraq.

The biggest disappointment of the Obama administration is that the American people have let Congressional obstruction be sold as some sort of misguided patriotism. I wish the media would call it what it is - betrayal of their oaths of office.

May. 15 2013 10:36 AM
The Truth from Becky

Just one more thing for them to blame the President for...amazing. Should the applicants have been scrutinized? Absolutely. The tea party is a borderline hate group and their members should be identified.

May. 15 2013 10:35 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

(The Obama administration seems more Nixonian by the day.)

"The IRS investigations; the administration’s fixation on leaks and leakers and its obsession with enemies; the cover-ups, the blame-shifting to subordinates, the defiant chief executive, even the sweating, pathetically dissembling press secretary; it all has the odor of that earlier time. Again, it’s all happening early in the second term, following a triumphant reelection. Again, the operative terms are arrogance, contempt for law, and thuggery."

May. 15 2013 10:27 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Who would have thought that Obama would have turned into Richard Nixon, complete with an Enemies List?

May. 15 2013 10:22 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan


May. 15 2013 10:21 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

It's amazing how the tea partyers and their GOP pseudo sycophants - think they were being targeted because of their "conservative" views. Probably not.

They were probably being UNFAIRLY scrutinized more because of their supposed "anti-government" views - not unlike the 1960's left-wing Jewish "commie" and black "radicals" J Edgar Hoover loved to hate.

If I form a "screw the IRS" group, as is my right, believe me - I will be looking forward to an audit. It's not right, heads should roll but that's just life when you challenge the machine.

May. 15 2013 10:20 AM
Bob from Westchester, NY

Mr. Horsley did not describe the disclosure obligations for 501(c)(3) organizations (e.g., charities) correctly - they are supposed to disclose their top 10 donors on their Form 990 Annual Report tax return.

May. 15 2013 10:20 AM

Condolences on your loss Brian.

As reported by the Center for Public Integrity, the IRS tax exempt division is one of the IRS units kept undermanned/underfunded by the GOP obstructionists:

May. 15 2013 10:20 AM
The Truth from Becky

So the tea party is a social welfare group? Does anyone else see the hypocrisy here? Interesting.

May. 15 2013 10:18 AM
Rusty Dab

Does anyone in the press remember the Reagan administration using IRS audits to harass anti-war and other left organizations, including church groups that provided aid to Central American refugees? I remember that it was quite widespread, but I've yet to hear or read any reference to this past political use of the IRS in reporting this story.

May. 15 2013 10:17 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

The Jewish Press reports that Pro-Israel JEWISH groups that disagreed with Obama's ISRAEL POLICY were ALSO on the list.
Please ask about this!

May. 15 2013 10:17 AM

...and now onto the apologist segment of our program.

May. 15 2013 10:15 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Jewish Pro-Israel groups were also targeted!!!!!

May. 15 2013 10:14 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Robert from NYC,

I read your rant and am reminded of Yada, Yada, Yada.

May. 15 2013 10:13 AM
Derek from Oyster bay

No Excuses needed Brian! May your uncle Sam RIP!!

May. 15 2013 10:13 AM
Joe from nearby

Why are the TeaBirchers entitled to a tax exemption as a "social welfare organization"???

It is well know how much the HATE WELFARE!!

May. 15 2013 10:11 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Brian, condolences. God bless.

May. 15 2013 10:09 AM
Joe from nearby


Please accept our condolences for your loss. He obviously was a very special person & well loved!

May. 15 2013 10:09 AM
Nick from UWS

Brian, I am sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.

May. 15 2013 10:08 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"We'll take a break from this story" !!!???


Give US a break.

May. 15 2013 10:08 AM
Robert from NYC

It's almost daily now that I am thankful I did not vote this last election. There were no choices as far as I was concerned and so why vote!? Yes, I voted for Obama the first time 'round with the same hope all how voted for him had and he fairly soon let us, well me down. It's amazing that the right thinks he's a socialist, lol! Anyway not to go there, his administration is a failure and his presidency is about as superficial as superficial can be. The man is intelligent and surly socially charismatic but i fear he is not a powerful president. He always sounds like he's going to take a stand and then that fizzles away. I see the decline a possible fall of the USA. Gloomy am I? OK. Will we split into separate states as did Europe after Rome's fall? LOL. The joke is on us as long as we tell ourselves that we are great and "exceptional" without making ourselves "great" and "exceptional" as we continue to decline faster than any other western society today. We don't hold these truths to be self-evident!

May. 15 2013 10:07 AM
jf from truthland

Obama and his administration is republican. This is a smoke screen to pretend he is not a right wing fascist but a left wing one to push manufactured sympathy for the right wing.

May. 15 2013 10:06 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

...NPR White House correspondent......

Gee, who WAS involved in the effort for transparency in this IRS political thuggery? Who DIDN'T dismiss or trivialize this story? Who DIDN'T circle their wagons around their Golfer Hero?

Was it Brian Lehrer? Uh, nooooooo.

Was it WNYC? Uh, nooooooo.

Was it the staff and “journalists” at NPR and PBS? Uh, nooooooooooo.

Was it the New York Times, which wrote an editorial on March 7, 2012 LAUDING the tyranny by the IRS? Uh, nooooooo, certainly not the hypocrites on the editorial board, some of whom have been affiliated with the ACLU and should know better. (

No, it was Mark Levin of WABC and Landmark Legal Foundation. Yes, Mark, the “right wing nut” on AM radio, a former assistant prosecutor in the justice department. Shame on the Left.

May. 15 2013 09:45 AM

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