This should lead every newscast tonight and the front page of every newspaper in the country tomorrow:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service is apologizing for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.
Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.
Many conservative groups complained during the election that they were being harassed by the IRS. They said the agency asked them an inordinate number of questions to justify their tax-exempt status.
Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities but it cannot be their primary activity.
The IRS media-relations office claims to have no information about this story, but did share that “we’re getting a lot of calls about that” when I called to inquire about it. I’ll post more as answers come in.
Using the IRS to target political opponents is banana-republic stuff, a clear and intolerable violation of the public trust, not to mention relevant criminal statutes. This is not the sort of offense that should get these IRS workers fired from their jobs — it is the sort of offense that should get them five years in prison.
If I may be allowed an “I told you so,” chapter 2 of my just-published book argues that the federal government is structurally indistinguishable from an organized-crime syndicate. My gratitude to the IRS for demonstrating that in such a dramatic fashion.