Politicizing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not a new or original idea. I am sure it has been done in the past in varying degrees, but the Obama Administration seems to have turned it into an art form. They have a slightly less obvious approach–not so much audits, but collecting information on political opponents.
The article at Power Line reports:
In August 2010, Austin Goolsbee, who directed Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and later chaired his Council of Economic Advisers, gave a press briefing in which he discussed corporate income taxes. In that briefing, he suggested that he had access to confidential IRS data, and falsely accused the administration’s beta noire, Koch Industries, of not paying corporate income taxes.
The article goes on to give the exact quote. The obvious question asked in the Power Line article is, “How did an Obama Administration official obtain confidential IRS tax records?” It should also be noted here that the charges were false. The fact that the charges were false probably doesn’t matter–I am willing to bet that more people heard the false charges than heard that the charges were false.
The article at Power Line concludes:
UPDATE: Also, let’s not forget Obama’s joke, during the first days of his presidency, in a speech at Arizona State University:
I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS.
At the time, most people thought he was kidding. But as Glenn Reynolds pointed out at the time, jokes about presidential abuse of power are not funny when they come from the president. With hindsight, more attention should have been paid.
Mary Katharine Ham posted an article at Hot Air yesterday showing exactly what questions organizations containing the words ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ were asked. The questions are quite revealing. The American Center for Law & Justice has handled lawsuits by a number of these organizations protesting their treatment, and the article at Hot Air lists specific questions their clients were asked:
Please follow the link above to the Hot Air article to read further questions and compliance instructions. The blame for this has been put on some low-level IRS employees in Cincinnati. As someone who used to work for the government many years ago, I find it hard to believe that low-level employees would take this kind of initiative on their own. At any rate, I wondered why the questions asked didn’t include the political affiliation of the household pets of the boards of directors of the various organizations. It seems as if every other question was asked.