Curiously Omitted from IRS Audit Report: Liberal Groups Were Targeted Along with Tea Party

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George (photo: Scott Applewhite, AP)

When the top inspector for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealed that the agency had targeted conservative groups for scrutiny, he failed to disclose that liberal organizations also were zeroed in on.


Democrats in Congress now want to know why J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, made this decision.


“The American public expects competent, impartial, unbiased, and non-political treatment from the IRS,” Representative Sander Levin (D-Michigan), a ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, told the media.


In remarks aimed at George, Levin said: “The same standard is also applicable to you and your organization. Your audit served as the basis and impetus for a wide range of Congressional investigations and this new information shows that the foundation of those investigations is flawed in a fundamental way.”


George was appointed to his post by President George W. Bush in 2004. He concluded in an audit of the IRS that the agency had used “inappropriate criteria” to target tea party groups.


But those same criteria were also used to target progressive groups, and were utilized even after they stopped being used for tea party groups, according to Levin, who has called for a congressional hearing.


George’s audit stated the IRS wrongly used “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO) memos to single out tea party groups. But he failed to mention that at least seven BOLO memos included the word “progressive.”


The IRS also keyed on terms like “Occupy” and “medical marijuana,” as well as advocacy of President Obama’s health care law.


During a congressional investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) asked George if the IRS had “a BOLO for MoveOn or progressive?” George answered that he couldn’t provide a “definitive response.”


The documents (pdf) support the contentions of certain IRS officials and Democrats that the agency did not intend to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny—and that the real focus was on examining overtly political groups on the left and the right seeking tax exempt status.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Democrat Demands Answers from Bush-Appointee over ‘Flawed’ IRS Audit (by Eric W. Dolan, Raw Story)

Documents Show Liberals in I.R.S. Dragnet (by Jonathan Weisman, New York Times)

IRS Look at Progressives Complicates Tale of Tea-Party Scrutiny (by Richard Rubin and Julie Bykowicz, Bloomberg Business Week)

New IRS Information Shows “Progressives” Included on BOLO Screening List (House Ways and Means Committee – Democrats)

IRS “Be On the Lookout Lists” (House Ways and Means Committee) (pdf)

Hiding Political Donors Is Key Reason IRS Applicants Sought Tax-Exempt Status (by Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff)  

Why Did IRS Ignore Karl Rove’s Tax-Exempt Organizations while Targeting Small Conservative Groups? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman)       

IRS Balks at Investigating Tax-Exempt Organizations Accused of Violating Tax Laws (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)       


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