Last year, tea party and conservative groups complained that the IRS was blocking their ability to become tax-exempt organizations. Some organizations complained that the IRS was asking for lists of donors. Last year, then IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman denied that any such actions were taken.
It turns out Commissioner Shulman was wrong.
Today, Lois Lerner, Deputy Commissioner of the IRS for Exempt Organizations, noted that actions were taken. From an AP story:
“That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review,” Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.
“The IRS would like to apologize for that,” she added.
The IRS specifically looked for the words ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot.’ Heaven help the Patriot Tea Party League of Patriotsville, Indiana. (I made that last line up, btw.)
Ms. Lerner stated that the actions were taken by low-level employees at the IRS Cincinnati Service Center. The IRS apologized for this occurring. For some in Congress, the IRS apology is not nearly enough. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants a probe into the actions. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, promised an investigation:
The fact that Americans were targeted by the IRS because of their political beliefs is unconscionable. The Committee will aggressively follow up on the IG [Inspector General] report and hold responsible officials accountable for this political retaliation.
Another part of this scandal–and it is exactly that, a scandal–is that the news of it coming out was accidental. The Fix on the Washington Post noted,
Lerner said she disclosed the information because someone asked her about it Friday morning — indicating that she had no plans to release the information publicly, despite the confirmed wrongdoing.
Of course, this won’t do any favors for the IRS’s reputation. This won’t help the IRS’s ability to increase its budget, nor will it bring a sense of rerlief to anyone thinking about how the IRS will be overseeing health care under Obamacare.