Tuesday, July 30, 2013

IRS Scandal Isn’t “Phony” (I)

Larry O'Brien            Karl Rove
“we have learned from the IRS scandal. . . that sports journalists are morally superior to political journalists. Whereas the former understand that cheating is an assault on the basic integrity of the sport, the latter all too often treat it as if it were just part of the game.”

--James Tarnato, Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal has clamped onto the IRS Scandal the same way the Washington Post pursued Watergate 41 years ago. It won’t let go. Here’s the Journal’s Peggy Noonan recently brushing aside liberal efforts to bury the scandal:
“Documents Show Liberals in I.R.S. Dragnet," read the New York Times headline. "Dem: 'Progressive' Groups Were Also Targeted by IRS," said U.S. News. The scandal has "evaporated into thin air," bayed the excitable Andrew Sullivan. [Yet a]ccording to a House Ways and Means Committee source, only seven of the 298 cases flagged by the IRS for extra scrutiny appeared to represent progressive causes. Not one of the seven was subject to harassment or abuse.
Of the seven, only two were even sent follow-up questionnaires after their applications for tax exempt status were received. Neither of those two was asked inappropriate or invasive questions. And all seven saw their applications approved. Conservative groups were treated differently, sent to a secondary review group after being flagged for scrutiny. They were subject to undue burdens and harassment—lengthy and invasive questions about donors and even prayer habits. There, in the secondary offices, some of them languished for years. "Some of them are still languishing,"
Noonan further noted that when the non-political IRS inspector general replied, “no, it was conservative groups that were targeted,” he ran into a liberal backlash.

The IRS attacks on conservative groups stemmed from President Obama’s distress, as we earlier stated, with the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United ruling in January 2010 allowing for unlimited private funding of election attacks. The “king” complains, the minions scurry to respond.

All the way down the IRS chain of command. The Journal’s Eliana Johnson has found the IRS acted within a month of the president’s expressed displeasure with Citizen’s United:
[John] Shafer, the manager of an IRS screening group in the Cincinnati office, told committee investigators that in February 2010 [emphasis added] one of his employees brought a tea-party application for nonprofit designation to his attention. Given the media coverage that the tea party was receiving, Shafer deemed the application a "high profile" matter and alerted his managers to its existence. Shortly thereafter, according to his testimony, lawyers in the IRS's Washington, D.C., office said, "We want to look at the case."
On the evidence of the Washington office's interest in that initial case, Shafer said IRS agents in Cincinnati then held the applications of tea-party groups until they were given "further direction" from D.C. The IRS interviews suggest that the agency's officials in Washington closely controlled the review of tea-party cases.
The Journal’s Kim Strassel reports that six months later, in August 2010, the IRS issued its first "Be On the Lookout" (“BOLO”) list, flagging applications that used key conservative words and issues. Strassel added, “the criteria would expand in the months to come.” Then September 22, 2010 in New York City, Obama warned that conservative groups "pose as non-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups," even though they are "guided by seasoned Republican political operatives."

Obama was talking about Karl Rove, one-time Bush top political operative known as “Bush’s brain.” Obama didn't want Rove, who helped create the Republican anonymous-donor fundraising group “Crossroads GPS,” damaging Obama’s re-election campaign. Obama’s concern paralleled that of Richard Nixon during Nixon’s 1972 re-election campaign. Nixon feared Larry O’Brien, the Democratic Partly leader whose skills in 1968 almost overcame the tremendous odds against a very damaged Hubert Humphrey.  O’Brien nearly grabbed the election out of Nixon’s hands.  That memory lead Nixon to attempt bugging O’Brien’s Watergate offices in 1972.


Power corrupts.

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