The Campaign Spot

McClatchy: Boy, a Lot of Conservatives Have IRS Horror Stories, Don’t They?

If the Internal Revenue Service had an unfair, politically biased, arbitrary and capricious approach to the evaluation of 501(c)(4) status, just how likely is it that the organization was even-handed, neutral, and fair in its other interactions with conservative groups?

McClatchy examines some Americans’ accounts of interacting with the IRS and realizes that there’s some evidence this pattern of abuse goes well beyond one issue or policy:

A group of anti-abortion activists in Iowa had to promise the Internal Revenue Service it wouldn’t picket in front of Planned Parenthood.

Catherine Engelbrecht’s family and business in Texas were audited by the government after her voting-rights group sought tax-exempt status from the IRS.

Retired military veteran Mark Drabik of Nebraska became active in and donated to conservative causes, then found the IRS challenging his church donations.

While the developing scandal over the targeting of conservatives by the tax agency has largely focused to date on its scrutiny of groups with words such as “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, these examples suggest the government was looking at a broader array of conservative groups and perhaps individuals. Their collective experiences at a minimum could spread skepticism about the fairness of a powerful agency that should be above reproach and at worst could point to a secret political vendetta within the government against conservatives.

The emerging stories from real people raise questions about whether the IRS scrutiny extended beyond applicants for tax-exempt status and whether individuals who donated to these tax-exempt organizations or to conservative causes also were targeted.

A little while, back, I referred to the IRS as “the Democratic National Committee’s Enforcement and Punishment Wing,” prompting scoffing from liberals. That label sounds a little less hyperbolic as these stories appear . . . 

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