The IRS's Ongoing War against Tea Party Groups

Despite impeachment proceedings, the Left still eyes new frontiers of political harassment.

President Obama’s IRS is still holding nonprofit applications from conservative and Tea Party groups hostage even now, years after the IRS targeting scandal first made headlines.

It is yet more proof that even after years of bad press arising from the sordid saga, the Internal Revenue Service remains a powerful instrument of political repression in the hands of Obama, who apparently treats the agency as his personal fiefdom. Always on the hunt for new ways to disadvantage his political adversaries, Obama is also now moving forward with a fresh campaign of political intimidation against nonprofit groups that strikes at the heart of the American democratic process.

The relatively incurious mainstream media has never shown much interest in Obama’s serial acts of malfeasance even when those activities have gotten people killed. Without much help from journalists, House Oversight Committee investigators uncovered the specifics of the unlawful IRS conduct despite billowy smokescreens of official obstruction worthy of Third World banana republics. 

Obama’s plotting comes after the administration officially absolved the targeting ringleader, the now-retired IRS tax-exempt organizations division chief Lois Lerner, a hyper-partisan, left-wing Democrat, last week of criminal wrongdoing for illegally subjecting right-of-center activist groups to intrusive scrutiny and wildly inappropriate processing waits. Cheered on by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a reliable Obama attack dog, the exempt organizations branch brutally harassed conservatives like Catherine Engelbrecht, leader of the Houston-based good-government group True the Vote. Other federal agencies joined in the harassment campaign, subjecting Engelbrecht’s family business to unexpected audits, inspections, and fines.

The decision to do nothing about the thuggish, criminal actions of Lerner isn’t all that surprising. This is what Barack Obama does. He uses taxpayer resources against his enemies in an effort to rig the system against them. This is the pious Chief Executive who maintains with a straight face that his IRS is not tainted even by “a smidgen of corruption.”

The administration outlined its prosecutorial cop-out in a letter last week to Congress. Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik shrugged off the Lerner-led conspiracy as mere bureaucratic incompetence, not as a left-wing witch hunt calculated to stifle Tea Party movement activism.

“Ineffective management is not a crime,” Kadzik wrote in full cover-up mode. “The Department of Justice’s exhaustive probe revealed no evidence that would support a criminal prosecution. What occurred is disquieting and may necessitate corrective action — but it does not warrant criminal prosecution.”

Former Justice Department staff attorney J. Christian Adams said Lerner was never in legal jeopardy with Obama in the White House.

“She’s part of the elite, insider, left-wing, five-bedroom-house-in-Bethesda crowd,” he said of Lerner and the fancy Maryland suburb of Washington in which she lives. “And so nothing was going to happen to her because she goes to the right cocktail parties.” The decision not to proceed against Lerner shows prosecuting people for crimes “is for little people.”

Robert Knight of the conservative American Civil Rights Union said Lerner’s misdeeds helped President Obama secure a second term because Tea Party groups weren’t able to get organized as their tax-exempt status hung in limbo.

“What Lois Lerner did moves us that much closer to being an authoritarian third world-type country, where might makes right,” Knight said. “It’s un-American. She should have been indicted. It’s a disgrace.”

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), possibly the next Speaker of the House, decried the Kadzik letter as “deeply disappointing.” Lerner undermined the rights of Tea Party activists, he said. “The American people deserve better than this.”

Lawyers for the Albuquerque Tea Party, which began seeking tax-exempt status nearly six years ago, and Ohio-based Unite in Action, whose application has been pending at the IRS for more than three years, aren’t happy that Lerner is getting off scot-free.

“It’s an outrage — a mockery of justice,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, which is suing on behalf of the Albuquerque and Ohio groups, along with 36 others.

“It’s no wonder why so many Americans have had it with Washington and the elite political class who can get away with something like this,” said Mark Meckler, president of Citizens for Self-Governance, which is part of a class-action lawsuit against the government.

In his letter, Kadzik also specifically cleared plot leader Lerner, whose emails made clear a bias against the Tea Party movement. As the Washington Times reports,

Investigators said none of the witnesses they interviewed believed Ms. Lerner acted out of political motives and that Ms. Lerner seemed to try to correct the inappropriate scrutiny once she “recognized that it was wrong.”

“In fact, Ms. Lerner was the first IRS official to recognize the magnitude of the problem and to take concerted steps to fix it,” Mr. Kadzik wrote.

This sounds a lot like the saga of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN), which, like the fictional Lerner that Kadzik describes, also conveniently claimed it took steps to end internal corruption after being exposed in media reports.

Lerner is the Obama administration executive who famously refused to testify at congressional hearings on legally flimsy Fifth Amendment self-incrimination grounds. Despite this, House investigators found that Obama’s IRS targeted conservative 501c4 nonprofit advocacy groups during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. They determined that Lerner organized an unprecedented crackdown on Tea Party and conservative groups and then attempted to scapegoat those nonprofits, blaming them for the harsh treatment they received at her instigation.

Meanwhile, after a series of congressional hearings and scattered media reports exposed how the feared tax agency systematically preys on political groups that resist Obama’s ongoing fundamental transformation of America, House Republicans have finally initiated the impeachment process against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. The defiant IRS head honcho who has presided over the agency’s long-running efforts to obstruct justice, won no friends in previous appearances before lawmakers.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and 18 other GOP lawmakers allege Koskinen misled Congress when he claimed he produced all of Lerner’s emails and also orchestrated the destruction of subpoenaed backup tapes that held copies of the emails. 

The Washington Times reports:

The impeachment resolution says the IRS knew Ms. Lerner’s messages were missing, due to a reported computer hard drive crash, as early as February 2014, but didn’t notify Congress until June — while the backup tapes were destroyed in March.

Hours before the impeachment resolution was filed, Koskinen told a Senate panel his agency has been pursuing “appropriate disciplinary review as needed” against employees.

Ominously, he vowed “to have new rules to limit political activities of nonprofit organizations in place before the 2016 election, raising the specter of another major fight over the tax agency and political targeting,” the newspaper paraphrased Koskinen saying. The IRS already tried to impose a rule preventing nonprofits from running voter registration drives but backed down in the face of a public backlash.

J. Christian Adams warns that the Obama administration is inventing new ways to stick it to nonprofit groups.

D.C. bureaucrats plan to move forward with new rules forcing conservative nonprofits to disclose the identities of their donors, whose protected anonymity has long been considered sacrosanct. The Public Interest Legal Foundation that Adams represents as counsel warns that a pending regulatory petition before the Federal Election Commission:

… is an attempt to force nonprofit advocacy organizations that are not political committees and that do not spend a majority of their time and resources on candidate-related activity to reveal their donors, something they are not required to do by federal law or IRS regulations. In fact, the fundamental rights of association, privacy, and free speech of such organizations and their donors are protected by the First Amendment, as the U.S. Supreme Court held in NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958).

This kind of coerced disclosure “has no purpose other than to try to open up the donors of such organizations to harassment and intimidation for their political and social beliefs in associating with particular membership organizations,” according to Adams. The FEC “has no statutory authority to mandate such disclosure of organizations that are not political committees.”

But laws are tiny little obstacles to left-wingers.

The Left’s “accountability” actions focus on harassing and intimidating political enemies, disrupting their activities, and forcing them to waste resources dealing with activists’ provocations. It is a tactic of radical community organizers, open borders fanatics, and union goons. Taking a cue from Marxist theorist Herbert Marcuse, they want to shut down, humiliate, and silence those who won’t quietly submit to their policy agenda.

And their tactics work.