Democrats: New Documents Show ‘Progressive’ Groups Targeted Too

The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, Friday, March 22, 2013.
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
Aug. 20, 2013, 8:40 a.m.

The doc­u­ment drip in the IRS probe con­tin­ued on Tues­day, with top con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats re­leas­ing new in­form­a­tion that they said defin­it­ively shows the tax agency ap­plied heightened scru­tiny to both pro­gress­ive and con­ser­vat­ive groups.

Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans have en­gaged in a series of stra­tegic leaks since the probe of the In­tern­al Rev­en­ue Ser­vice began months ago.

On Tues­day, newly re­leased in­tern­al minutes from 2010 show that “pro­gress­ive” was lis­ted along­side “tea parties” as cri­ter­ia that “should be flagged for re­view.”

In a let­ter to con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats, the IRS said that oth­er, pre­vi­ously un­dis­closed, search terms used in­cluded “ACORN suc­cessors” and “Emerge” (there is a na­tion­al pro­gress­ive group, Emerge Amer­ica). The aud­it­or who set off the scan­dal has said that tax au­thor­it­ies had singled out tea-party groups for ex­tra scru­tiny.

“This new in­form­a­tion should put a nail in the coffin of the Re­pub­lic­an claims that the IRS’s ac­tions were polit­ic­ally mo­tiv­ated or were tar­geted at only one side of the polit­ic­al spec­trum,” said Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings of Mary­land, the top Demo­crat on the House Over­sight and Gov­ern­ment Re­form Com­mit­tee.

The chair­man of the pan­el, Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Dar­rell Issa of Cali­for­nia, is un­likely to be de­terred in his probe, however. Earli­er this month, Issa said he was ex­pand­ing his in­quiry to look in­to pos­sible im­prop­er co­ordin­ate between the tax agency and the Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion.

“How many times have Con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats now tried to de­clare the IRS tar­get­ing in­vest­ig­a­tion over?” said Issa spokes­man Fre­d­er­ick Hill. He said there was “no com­par­is­on” between the agency’s treat­ment of Emerge and tea-party groups. “The fact that Emerge was ini­tially ap­proved for tax ex­empt status, but had it re­voked after its im­prop­er be­ha­vi­or came to light, un­der­scores how much more strin­gent the IRS was with Tea Party ap­plic­ants.”

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