Making a political point
I can’t know the intent of the employees in the Cincinnati office of the IRS who in 2010 began tagging 501 C4’s with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names for extra scrutiny, but the facts are these. In 2010 most of the new applications were from the conservative side; the department responsible for vetting these applications was understaffed; the number of applications had doubled since Citizens United and the guidelines for establishing what “primarily non political” even meant were extremely vague.
According to Donald Tobin, a law professor at Ohio State University, “While some of the IRS questions may have been overboard, you can look at some of the groups and understand why these questions were being asked.” Also, liberal leaning groups did not have the easily recognized and repeated name tags such as “tea party.” This is not to excuse shortcuts that were unfair, insensitive and brought the impartiality of the IRS into question; accountability is certainly in order for these serious lapses in judgment. But given these facts, and absent evidence of some sinister left-wing conspiracy by a cabal of IRS operatives taking orders from the highest levels of government, the hyperbolic tone of Congressman McClintock’s guest column entitled “Freedom Under Siege,” as well as the Village Life editorial, seems more calculated to make political points than to assess what actually happened.
The real outrage is that ANY of these 501(C)4 groups, given their flagrantly political activity and anonymous donors, are given tax exempt status at all.
El Dorado Hills
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