“Progressive” Sideshow Trivializes IRS Victims for Political Theater

In a letter sent to congressional investigators yesterday the Treasury Inspector General that exposed the targeting of Tea Party groups confirmed that conservative Tea Party groups, not “progressive” groups, were intentionally targeted by the IRS.


IG George wrote:

From our audit work, [TIGTA] did not find evidence that the criteria … labeled “Progressives,” were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited.  The “Progressives” criteria appeared on a section of the “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO) spreadsheet labeled “Historical,” and unlike other BOLO entries, did not include instruction on how to refer cases that met the criteria.  While we have multiple sources of information corroborating the use of Tea Party and other related criteria we described in our report, including employee interviews, e-mails and other documents, we found no indication in any of these other materials that “progressives” was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention.

The IG letter stated that only 6 groups with “progress” or “progressive” in their names were given any scrutiny at all for potential political activity, while 70 percent of “progressive” groups received no additional scrutiny.  The letter continued, “In comparison, 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases” and subjected to intrusive scrutiny.  Finally, the letter concluded that it “did not find evidence that the IRS used [the term “Progressive”] as selection criteria for potential political cases.”

Today, the Acting Commissioner of the IRS, Daniel Werfel, testified that he had no information from his review to contradict the IG’s letter – nothing to contradict the IG’s conclusion that conservative, not progressive, groups were targeted. “No, I don’t think any part of our report contradicts it,” he told the House Ways and Means Committee today.


The Left has spent the last month searching for just one “progressive” group so that they could close up shop and end the entire investigation – throw up their hands and say, oh well I guess the targeting was equal.

They can’t find one.  Not a single liberal group has come forward claiming they were targeted. In fact, “progressive” groups who have gone through the tax-exempt application process have said, “I don’t know that we feel particularly targeted.”  However, the Left did find one redacted BOLO list with the term “progressive” on it and to them, that is enough.  The IG and the IRS both confirm that there is no evidence to suggest that progressive groups were targeted in any way similar to conservative groups.

The point is that finding one progressive group or leftist term which may have been caught up in this IRS dragnet does not change the fact that every Tea Party group was intentionally targeted, set aside for further review, delayed for years, and forced to answer, under penalty of perjury, unconstitutionally intrusive questions.

The Left can spend all the time they want looking for a “progressive” group that wasn’t treated fairly.  That’s their politically motivated sideshow.  But what we should all be looking for is the truth.  We all know conservative groups were targeted by the IRS.

The ACLJ is representing 41 conservative groups, Tea Party groups, and pro-life groups who were intentionally targeted for their beliefs.

What is becoming more clear is that the IRS has not resolved this issue.  The latest revelation from the IRS showing the absolute despotic way the Exempt Organizations division of the IRS was run comes from a new report by the National Taxpayer Advocate.  The National Taxpayer Advocate office within the IRS is tasked with assisting taxpayers who are having issues with the IRS.  As reports indicate, “Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, issued a report saying the IRS long has resisted efforts by her office to help groups seeking tax-exempt status, creating a culture that enabled agents to improperly target such organizations.”


Not only did the IRS target conservative groups, they effectively walled off the IRS agency that was tasked with assisting these groups – preventing any oversight and ensuring that these groups wallowed in essentially IRS purgatory for years.

Now the IRS has a solution for the targeted conservative groups: give up some of your rights and you can have the approval you deserved years ago.

The IRS is “offering” to immediately bestow approval on targeted groups if they promise, “under penalties of perjury,” to abide by a new 60-40 rule that it admits is not based in the law.  The IRS is only exacerbating an already abusive situation.  The IRS is giving targeted conservative groups the false choice to either give up some of their rights or continue to wallow in this intrusive review process.  Other groups who have been approved can continue operating under the full extent of the law, which requires that social welfare groups “primarily” operate for the social good and general welfare.  That is the law, yet these targeted groups, who did nothing wrong, are asked to give up their rights and operate under a different set of rules from the rest of 504(c)(4) organizations.

This takes the targeting to a whole new level.  Delay is bad enough but to ask the victims to give up their legal rights after such delay is even more abusive.

These targeted groups deserve to be approved immediately, and our lawsuit will continue until justice is served.

Join over 100,000 concerned Americans in demanding the IRS stop targeting conservatives. Sign the Petition to End IRS Abuse today.


This article is crossposted at the ACLJ’s Docket Blog.


Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.



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