Politics & Policy

The IRS Caresses the Left, Hammers the Right

Data deepen suspicions that the IRS is the latest weapon in the Left’s arsenal.

According to Team Obama’s “phony scandal” narrative, when the IRS processed 501(c) (3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exemption applications, it equally tormented liberals and conservatives. No big deal, the argument goes. The IRS suffers from even-handed inefficiency rather than an un-American habit of slamming critics of the president of the United States.

Unfortunately for the Obamites, actual facts annihilate their institutional-incompetence defense. New data deepen the suspicion that the IRS is the latest and most worrisome weapon in the Left’s arsenal.

Source: House Ways and Means Committee

Using his authority under Internal Revenue Code Section 6103, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) requested and received data from the IRS on the 298 “political advocacy” groups that the tax agency was subjecting to secondary screening as of May 31, 2012. Committee staffers compared these groups’ names against identifiers on the IRS’s “Be on the Lookout” list — namely, “progressive” (on the left) and “Tea Party,” “Patriot,” “9/12,” and “conservative” (on the right). This yielded 111 groups, of which staffers developed a snapshot on their status as of May 31, 2013.

Ways and Means confirmed conservatives’ repeated lament: The IRS caresses institutions on the left and hammers those on the right.

Among these 111 targets, only seven were self-described “progressive” groups. The remaining 104 were right of center. So, among this sample, the institutions that the IRS placed under a microscope were 6.3 percent liberal and 93.7 percent conservative. Put another way, the IRS targeted one liberal group for every 15 conservative organizations.

That is not quite fair and balanced.

For those keeping score at home, there were 13 applications for 501(c)(3) status (zero Left and 13 Right) and 98 applications for 501(c)(4) status (seven Left and 91 Right).

The IRS’s targeting continues today, as a separate Ways and Means probe discovered. An IRS agent whom the committee interviewed on August 1 told staff investigators that a tax-exempt application from a tea-party group would be subject to additional scrutiny.

According to an MSNBC story on this matter, the IRS agent said, “At this point, I would send it to secondary screening, political advocacy.”

The committee investigator asked, “So, you would treat a tea-party group as a political-advocacy case, even if there was no evidence of political activity on the application. Is that right?”

The IRS agent replied: “Based on my current manager’s direction, uh-huh.”

“It is outrageous that IRS management continues to target tea-party cases without any justification,” Chairman Camp stated. “The harassment, abuse, and delays these Americans have faced over the last few years has been unwarranted, unprovoked, and, at times, possibly illegal. The fact that the IRS still continues to treat the Tea Party differently and subject them to additional targeting is outrageous, and it must stop immediately.”


The IRS also scrutinized liberals far more lightly than they did conservatives. Ways and Means found that the IRS asked these leftist groups 4.7 questions, on average, while righties typically faced 14.9 queries. Conservatives complain that the IRS inappropriately demanded their donors’ lists, reports on books they were reading, whether applicants’ relatives planned to run for office, and even descriptions of their prayers.


Among the seven liberal groups that Ways and Means examined, IRS authorized 100 percent of their proposals. Among conservatives, the IRS approved only 46 percent.

Consequently, zero liberal groups in this sample await an IRS decision. In contrast, 56 conservative outfits either still wonder whether the IRS will accept their submissions or simply have given up.

When the committee released this information on July 30, it did not name the groups it studied. However, the American Center for Law and Justice details how long conservative clubs have watched the IRS sit on their paperwork. ACLJ is suing the IRS on behalf of 41 such entities. Some faced unusually long intervals before their documents were approved (e.g., 30 months for Virginia’s Richmond Tea Party and 32 months for Colorado’s Four Corners Liberty Restoration Group). Others remain in limbo, amid IRS inaction. Consider, as of August 6, a 39-month ongoing wait for Michigan’s Unite in Action, 41 months for California’s PECAN (Patriots Educating Concerned Americans Now), and 43 months for New Mexico’s Albuquerque Tea Party.

“There’s supposed to be a criminal investigation,” ACLJ’s Jordan Sekulow told Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson on yesterday morning’s Fox & Friends. “This is good as of today: Not one of our clients has been contacted in this so-called FBI investigation.” That’s right. As the IRS scandal hits its three-month mark, among the 41 conservative groups represented by ACLJ, the FBI has questioned precisely zero of them about their treatment at the hands of the IRS.

It is incredibly easy for Obama & Co. to claim that there is no evidence of IRS malfeasance in this case, when the administration’s chief investigative body refuses to seek any such evidence. Thus, with their hands squeezed over their firmly shut eyes, Obama and his loyalists confidently announce: “There’s nothing to see here.”

Beyond FBI agents,  the other dogs that have not barked are the leftist groups that may have waited endlessly for IRS rulings or been asked about their contributors, reading material, or prayer habits. If, say, Occupy Palm Beach, Americans for Higher Taxes, or Spend It All — NOW! had shared their IRS horror stories, this would be no scandal.

So, where are the IRS’s liberal victims? Are they staying mum while this controversy poaches Team Obama in increasingly hot water? Or — could it be? — maybe the IRS has no leftist victims, since it barely targeted and never persecuted such groups.

Couple this information with revelations that confidential IRS records illegally got leaked to the Federal Election Commission and apparently to opponents of the National Organization for Marriage and 2010 senatorial nominee Christine O’Donnell (R., Del.). A frightful portrait emerges of a thoroughly politicized federal agency that repeatedly abuses its police powers to the benefit of Obama and his comrades on the left and to the detriment of their rivals on the right.

This is far from “phony” and close to authoritarian.

UPDATE: This article has been revised since its original publication.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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