Update 5/13/13: 12:00: The discussions about the targeting of the right-leaning groups and the sign-offs were done at the Chief Counsel’s office. The Chief Counsel is an Obama appointee.
Update: 5/13/13: The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight has thrown down an investigative gauntlet to the Internal Revenue Service, demanding that the agency hand over by next Wednesday every communication in its records that includes the words “tea party,” “patriot” or “conservative.” [CNS News]
The IRS has now apologized for singling out Tea Party groups for special oversight when the groups filed applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS might also have to apologize to at least one pro-Israel Jewish organization.
In 2011, IRS Commissioner Douglas told Congress that the IRS did not target Tea Party groups. “There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people,” he said.
Douglas now claims he didn’t know it was going on. However, a draft of a watchdog’s report obtained Saturday by The Associated Press…seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner, senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011. [AP]
The IRS filtered out applicants which had “Tea Party,” “patriot” or “9/12 Project” in its name. They also targeted groups critical of the Obama government and who sought to instruct about the Constitution. Read more here.
The Jewish Press is reporting that one strongly pro-Israel group – Z-Street – has said they have been targeted by the IRS. They said that questions from the tax-exempt office of the IRS, the same office that targeted the Tea Party groups, were highly inappropriate.
For example, the IRS required the organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
The IRS denied the allegations in this case for what that is worth.
Z-street filed a lawsuit against the IRS two-and-a-half years ago. They said that an IRS agent told them they were targeted because they were “connected to Israel.”
The Jewish Press reported that in addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
There was no movement on the lawsuit until recently. Coincidentally, a hearing has recently been scheduled for the group, to be held on July 2 in the Federal District Court of the District of Columbia.
People should find this chilling. It is an abuse of power if this is what happened. A violation of constitutional or civil rights by the IRS is a federal crime.