“We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” says Peggy Noonan in her weekly column for the Wall Street Journal. Noonan argues that this is no ordinary scandal. The IRS’s targeting of groups according to their political beliefs is serious, sinister business. She also reveals the breadth of the scandal in a way that few have. This is not simply about denying tax-exempt status to certain groups. It goes beyond that. The IRS scandal has two parts. Noonan writes:
The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists…
The second part of the scandal is the auditing of political activists who have opposed the administration…
Franklin Graham, son of Billy, told Politico he believes his father was targeted. A conservative Catholic academic who has written for these pages faced questions about her meager freelance writing income. Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they’re afraid of saying they were audited.
If these reports are true, the IRS has used its auditing powers to punish opponents of the Obama administration. To add insult to injury, the allegations include the suppression not only of certain political speech, but also of religious speech. It’s not just free speech that the IRS attacked, but in some cases they targeted religious liberty is as well.
I’m no fan of independent counsels, but I agree with Noonan’s conclusion that we need one in this case. The stakes really are that high. She writes:
What happened at the IRS is the government’s essential business. The IRS case deserves and calls out for an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position’s powers. Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned. Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don’t, the politicization of the IRS will continue—forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop. And if it isn’t stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.
Read the rest here.
Isn’t it strange to anybody that everyone that is quoted on this has a book to sell or a by-line to read or both .
Umm… err.. Jack… yeah… um if the left were being targeted, that comment would be equally valid….
This scandal is EXACTLY the sort of thing the left would accuse the right of, and especially Bush.
Too bad it could easily happen to the left from the right, as the IRS is indeed a political tool that much is evident.
Why is anyone surprised by this?
None of us should be surprised about this…..do you think that story in the washington examiner about the groups being refused tax-exempt status due to their positiion on PP will actually make the news or “hit the fan”?
Every conservative audited by the IRS for the last few years is now certain it was politically motivated…
Now you had to go and introduce facts and statistical analysis into this! Times makes a very good point, which will probably be ignored.
Noonan misses the bigger problem, namely that the 501c4 organizations, which are supposed to be social welfare organizations which can advocate for causes. Many of them are partisan political organizations, and should not receive tax exempt status. This is true for all of these organizations, regardless of their politics. There can exist, they can support their candidates and issues, but they should not receive the tax exempt status. Why put the IRS in the position of needing to evaluate partisan political organizations in the first place?
Let me add that the politicizing of the IRS should not happen, persons should be held accountable, the same standards should be applied to all groups evenly. I would also add such politicizing of the IRS is not new – scandals similar to this can be found as far back as the Nixon administration. Just as an aside, if I am working for the IRS with the task of evaluating groups applying for 501c4 status, and the applications have names with “tea party” and “patriot” – I would be inclined to think that these new organization are going to be political in partisan ways, given the current climate of our country. This is not to excuse the behavior, because I believe the bigger issue is the sham of the definitions which apply to these organizations in the first place.
I think Denny’s right on the merits here but he leaves out the fact that the groups the IRS targeted are actually violating the spirit of the law in claiming to be social welfare groups not engaging in political activity that are entitled to tax exemption. The wrongdoing is not just in singling out Tea Party groups but also in not enforcing the law. Liberal and conservatives groups are in violating the law if wrongfully characterizing their mission.
The IRS must be a nonpartisan organization but that doesn’t mean that partisan groups aren’t in fact violating the law. We could go back to the Bush years and find liberal groups (like the NAACP) who were audited. Was it for partisan reasons?
Also it appears that individual auditors have too much power if they can unfairly leverage the power of the IRS to suppress certain groups or individuals. There isn’t anything liberal or conservative about that. Its simply wrong.
Its also entirely possible the administration itself had nothing to do with directing IRS audits on individuals or groups opposed to its agenda. Keep that in mind.
“We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” says Peggy Noonan
I guess Peggy slept through Iran-Contra.
I was curious about the Obama-Nixon comparisons that some in the mainstream media are making
There are records of Nixon wanting to use the IRS for partisan purposes. Oddly enough it seems Billy Graham was targeted by the IRS in the 1970s. Perhaps its not an unusual thing for someone with a multi-million dollar enterprise, regardless of purpose, to be audited by the IRS?
Anyway, these are the kinds of evidence we need before it is acceptable to engage in the kind of pure speculation and innuendo that Peggy Noonan employs in her article.
I am deeply suspicious of the media and the political class making circuses out of issues that should be investigated carefully and with due diligence especially in light of the fact that Jonathan Karl of ABC News used doctored emails from Republicans to make the case that the Obama WH was engaged in a cover up about the Benghazi attack. That was the huge manufactured scandal from last week.
My personal opinion is that the only real scandal (based on available information) involving President Obama has to do with the DOJ-ordered wiretapping and infringement of the civil liberties of AP journalists. We have tumbled down the slippery slope of rolling back press freedoms that are in clear contradiction with the principles of the US Constitution. This administration has clearly focused on punishing whistleblowers and thereby intimidating the press.
Denny has long-forgotten posting this but I’m not willing to let him off the hook for it. Do we have a better idea on whether this was an ordinary scandal or not? Was it even a scandal?
Let’s exchange one partisan source for another. Which one relies less on innuendo and irresponsible speculation?
Kevin Thomas in Australia
We Australian Baptist commiserate with Southern Baptists that 88% of our church-reared youth give up going to church by age 18. Should this fact not be our No.1 priority? Why is it not on our radar? Do you suspect that today’s Baptists talk scarcely at all about what the Apostles talked about all the time? What two-word phrase in Paul’s letters pops up at least 26 times in a 1-minute concordance check? Yet I have not heard Paul’s top priority two-word phrase referred to even once, in 65 years of listening to Baptist pulpit ministry. And Baptists lament the youth-attrition rate after failing to talk about what the Apostle talked about so frequently, for instance, in !Corinthians 3:13, – “THE DAY”. Baptist Youth are being defrauded of knowledge of their looming appointment on “THE DAY”, so go off to live like their non-church peers, because it doesn’t matter. With prayers, in Christ,Kevin Thomas, Australia.