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Author Topic: The Inner Party strikes back
G3
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quote:
IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress in March 2012 that the IRS was not targeting groups based on their political views.

"There's absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people" who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman told a House Ways and Means subcommittee.

And now we know:
quote:
The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.

Organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.

In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.

The IRS, now that election season has passed, issued a apology. Anyone been hit with a audit before? Yeah, "sorry" is pretty hollow when you're up against a organization that has the power to assume you are guilty unless you prove you are innocent.

BTW, this was all done by low level employees within the IRS. The IRS claims nobody, and I mean nobody in any position of authority even knew it was going on. They also claim it was in no way motivated by political bias. Oh, and the check is in the mail too. Promise.

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djquag1
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Thank you for the check.
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G3
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Here's a list of questions a real reporter, you know, like the kind we used to have, could start with:
quote:

(1) When did the IRS malfeasance occur and when did it become public?
(2) Has anyone been disciplined for the IRS malfeasance. What are their names? What was the discipline?
(3) How did it happen that "low-level staffers" could cause such trouble?
(4) Why did no "high-level staffers" put a stop to it?
(5) How can this be prevented in the future?
(6) Which groups, specifically, were targeted?
(7) How much did the inappropriate targeting cost the groups?
(8) Are these the same staffers that are going to be working on Obamacare implementation?

As for question 1, we have a pretty good idea of the answer. From the March 7, 2012 article in the New York Times:
quote:
Taxpayers should be encouraged by complaints from Tea Party chapters applying for nonprofit tax status at being asked by the Internal Revenue Service to prove they are “social welfare” organizations and not the political activists they so obviously are.

Tea Party supporters claim they are being politically harassed with extensive I.R.S. questionnaires.

Somehow, the NYT found out exactly what these "low-level staffers" were up to, praised them for it in fact. But it just slipped by everyone at IRS; from the top on down. I guess nobody at IRS ever read the New York Times. Yeah, that must be it. And by the way, let's all just finally accept the blatant bias of the media - cheering when the IRS targets political opponents, it could not possibly get more obvious than that.

And who here thinks it's just a coincidence that the story drops on a Friday afternoon, Mother's Day weekend, buried in a wall to wall Cleveland kidnapping, Benghazi hearing news cycle? That's sure convenient ain't it ...

[ May 10, 2013, 01:54 PM: Message edited by: G3 ]

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G3
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And here's another little coinkydink for you ruminatory pleasure...

What state is Cincinnati in? Ohio.

What swing state was one of the most important, if not *the* most important, for the Obama campaign to win in 2012? Ohio.

Would it be useful to tie up the staff and funds of conservative activist groups in 2012 in Ohio? Yes.

Yeah.

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djquag1
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But they weren't conservative action groups.

They were social welfare groups.

Right?

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G3
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Right, and of the approximately 75 groups that were targeted, none had their tax-exempt status revoked.

Wait, let's just fix that so it's accurate. Of the approximately 75 groups that the IRS concedes were targeted, none had their tax-exempt status revoked.

Do you think it just stopped there? Let me tell you something: a good liar, when caught, admits to a relatively minor half truth to get away with the big lie. What do you think?

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G3
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Would it be fair to sum up your point thusly:

- This was done by a bunch of low-level staffers in Cincinnati

- None of the managers knew anything about it.

- As SOON as they found out, they put a stop to it

- It was only a few organizations and, beside, none of them were denied

- They're really sorry about that

- All fixed, so there's nothing to see here

- Move along, citizen

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djquag1
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I don't recall stating my point, G3. I've made a smartass comment and asked a question.

I'm unaware of the specific laws. Do political action commitees get granted tax exempt status?

I'm asking because even you seemed to be confused over whether they're a social welfare group or a conservative action group. If political action groups don't get tax exempt status, then perhaps the people responsible saw the same things that confused you.

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scifibum
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"Known as 501(c)(4) groups after the section of the tax code that makes them tax-exempt, such organizations can collect money from anonymous donors and spend it on advertising. To stay tax-exempt, they cannot endorse a candidate or a political party."

From the Reuters article:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/10/us-usa-politics-irs-idUSBRE9490S720130510

So, if endorsing a political party or candidate can violate your tax exempt status, I don't find it too surprising or ominous that key words that a reasonable person would associate with a political party or a set of candidates happened to be used by some employees as an indication of a potential problem.

I'm not saying they were unbiased in what key words they looked at...I have no idea. Sounds like they violated some rules about how to identify organizations for screening. But it's possible they were being lazy instead of being nefarious. Hopefully the investigation will clarify.

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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by djquag1:
I don't recall stating my point, G3. I've made a smartass comment and asked a question.

I'm unaware of the specific laws. Do political action commitees get granted tax exempt status?

I'm asking because even you seemed to be confused over whether they're a social welfare group or a conservative action group. If political action groups don't get tax exempt status, then perhaps the people responsible saw the same things that confused you.

and you got a slightly smartass answer. [Razz]

The laws have been addressed.

Your term "social welfare group" is slightly misleading. A lot of advocacy can be done without endorsing a candidate or party, it's common stuff really on all sides of he political spectrum.

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G3
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The story is developing:
quote:
The agency blames low-level employees and says no senior officials were aware of the extra scrutiny to see if conservative groups were violating their tax-exempt status.

But a draft of a watchdog's report obtained Saturday by The Associated Press says senior officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011.

Chicago style politics, it's the new hope and change.
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G3
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Details

quote:
But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “Tea Party,” ”Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says. …

On Jan, 25, 2012, the criteria for flagging suspect groups was changed to, “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement,” the report says.

and

quote:
Among the other revelations, on Aug. 4, 2011, staffers in the IRS’ Rulings and Agreements office “held a meeting with chief counsel so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue.”
I guess by "low level staffers" they mean the chief counsel.
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G3
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New questions...

Remember how much Harry Reid was prattling on about Romney's tax returns? He had 1-3 people (IIRC) telling him Romney paid zero taxes. Did the White House feed him some inside information, or did the IRS? How did Harry know and what made him so damn sure he'd repeat it ad nauseum?

Did Obama see Romney’s tax records and use that info to call on him to disclose them?

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Seneca
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When I heard this on the radio I could not believe it, the Obama administration finally admitting they screwed up. Granted, they downplayed it and tried to act like it was a low level decision but the fact that this happened at all should send warning signals to everyone else.

To you liberals who think this wasn't a big deal. You better hope that your party stays in power forever because the tables may turn and you may find yourselves the target of a progressive neo-liberal institutionalist republican administration who, like Obama, has no problems with using the IRS as a weapon to silence its political enemies.

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scifibum
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You know, guys, if there's a real problem here, you're not helping it get addressed by leaping straight to the OMG OBAMA IS EVIL thing. Whatever you do don't birtherize the whole thing.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G3:
Remember how much Harry Reid was prattling on about Romney's tax returns? He had 1-3 people (IIRC) telling him Romney paid zero taxes. Did the White House feed him some inside information, or did the IRS? How did Harry know and what made him so damn sure he'd repeat it ad nauseum?

He had 0 people tell him. He was parodying the evidence free nature of birtherism- inventing an unverifyable claim and then making it incumbent on the accused to debunk it rather than on the one making the accusation to actually provide evidence to substantiate the claim.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G3:
And here's another little coinkydink for you ruminatory pleasure...

What state is Cincinnati in? Ohio.

What swing state was one of the most important, if not *the* most important, for the Obama campaign to win in 2012? Ohio.

Would it be useful to tie up the staff and funds of conservative activist groups in 2012 in Ohio? Yes.

Yeah.

If they were legitimately tax exempt groups, then the campaign season shouldn't have mattered much, as dj tried to point out. If they are actually political advocacy groups that are exploiting the social welfare loophole such that the campaign season did matter to them. then the IRS may well have been justified in seeing if it could find a way to minimize the flagrant abuse of that status with the tools it currently has.
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Aris Katsaris
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I'm glad that the Republicans finally found a real scandal which should really be investigated in EXTREME earnestness, because all the previous so-called scandals (the birth records, Benghazi) were making them look like drooling morons and their attempts to cry "Scandal!" over those things was significantly lowering our collective intelligence.
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AI Wessex
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Agree, but it will only energize them even more on the bull**** obstructionism. The sad thing is that they deny the Democrats their solutions and get away with blaming them for failing. The GOP strategy is "leading" with a kind of mind control.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
You know, guys, if there's a real problem here, you're not helping it get addressed by leaping straight to the OMG OBAMA IS EVIL thing. Whatever you do don't birtherize the whole thing.

There is a real problem here. Trying to equate it to birtherism is a rather obvious attempt to discount it as fringe paranoia rather than actually address the facts.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by G3:
Remember how much Harry Reid was prattling on about Romney's tax returns? He had 1-3 people (IIRC) telling him Romney paid zero taxes. Did the White House feed him some inside information, or did the IRS? How did Harry know and what made him so damn sure he'd repeat it ad nauseum?

He had 0 people tell him. He was parodying the evidence free nature of birtherism- inventing an unverifyable claim and then making it incumbent on the accused to debunk it rather than on the one making the accusation to actually provide evidence to substantiate the claim.
Riiiiigggghht. [Roll Eyes]
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AI Wessex
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"There is a real problem here. Trying to equate it to birtherism is a rather obvious attempt to discount it as fringe paranoia rather than actually address the facts."

Given how frequently that happens it's no surprise. Remind us, did Obama really spend $200M a day to visit India? Did the stimulus really cost the economy 300,000 jobs? Is Obama really secretly buying up all the bullets to deny them to everyone else and positioning military equipment in all the major cities in preparation for declaring a national state of emergency? Will Obama really be at fault if the ACA fails because Republicans refused to allocate the money it requires to be implemented?

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
"There is a real problem here. Trying to equate it to birtherism is a rather obvious attempt to discount it as fringe paranoia rather than actually address the facts."

Given how frequently that happens it's no surprise. Remind us, did Obama really spend $200M a day to visit India? Did the stimulus really cost the economy 300,000 jobs? Is Obama really secretly buying up all the bullets to deny them to everyone else and positioning military equipment in all the major cities in preparation for declaring a national state of emergency? Will Obama really be at fault if the ACA fails because Republicans refused to allocate the money it requires to be implemented?

It's sad that this is all you can do, you can't even begin to address the subject matter of this topic. Keep mocking and deriding. Like I said, one day when your party is out of power and a neo-liberal institutionalist RINO like Jeb Bush comes in, he will do the exact same thing to liberal groups, only he'll probably take it further since every politician seems to be worse than the one before.

You really don't see the danger here do you? All you can do is play a party foil and try to make this out like it's about hard working Americans trying to organize themselves instead of a corrupt government?

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AI Wessex
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No, what I'm trying to say is that politics and government are indistinguishable these days. Prove me wrong by demonstrating how the GOP is working hard to bridge the gap between policy differences.

See my first comment above where I said that I agreed with Aris' comment where he said:
quote:
I'm glad that the Republicans finally found a real scandal which should really be investigated in EXTREME earnestness.
Until more facts come out (as opposed to a rush to judgment), there's not much more to say. But, as I pointed out, the GOP preferred strategy is to attack and distort in order to demonize Democrats and Obama, and there are plenty of examples of that to choose from. Let's see if that happens, too.
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G3
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quote:
ABC News has obtained a draft of a soon-to-be-released investigative reporting showing that the Internal Revenue Service began targeting conservative groups as far back as 2010 and that senior IRS officials in Washington have known about it for almost two years. Last week, we learned that the IRS was targeting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, but it goes beyond that, ABC’s JONATHAN KARL reports. The draft report, conducted by the IRS’s internal watchdog, says the agency was tracking groups who’s goals included, quote “limiting government” and “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” and that, “criticize how the country is being run.” Friday, the White House says it had it no idea the IRS was targeting Tea Party-allied groups.
The Obama regime targeted "groups who’s goals included, quote “limiting government” and “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights” and that, “criticize how the country is being run.”"

In other words, they used the IRS to target anyone that may oppose the current regime's political goals. It is fascinating, although far from surprising, to see the left support this and line up to defend it.

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scifibum
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Seneca, I just think you should stick to the facts. The facts don't presently indicate that Obama had anything to do with this, do they?

Also, can you really not see how political groups whose names suggest they exist to protest taxation might attract some interest from the IRS?

I haven't seen anybody saying there should be no investigation, or no consequences for people who violated policies in choosing groups to audit. In fact, it seem plausible to me that they were motivated by political bias and should be censured.

But if you insist this goes all the way to the top, and anyone who isn't convinced of that is refusing to address the subject matter, I think you're well ahead of yourself.

G3, I'm not equating concern over unfair or illegal auditing procedure to birtherism. I'm equating the conviction that this is part of some nefarious plot instituted by Obama, regardless of whether there is any evidence for that, to birtherism.

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Viking_Longship
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So let's presume it's not Obama, but some rogue elements within the IRS. It's still one political faction abusing the tax code to criminalize another faction. In the rush to defend the POTUS let's not pretend this isn't a problem.
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scifibum
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That should absolutely be penalized.
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PSRT
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quote:
It's still one political faction abusing the tax code to criminalize another faction
Let's be clear here: We are talking about people abusing the tax code, and the IRS singling out one set of possible abusers to target. The violation is of not applying equal scrutiny to everyone. It is not creating a violation out of thin air in order to target one group. This distinction is important... we SHOULD be asking that the IRS do what it did to the tea party et al for all applicants.

[ May 13, 2013, 11:44 AM: Message edited by: PSRT ]

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yossarian22c
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Under the IRS guidelines for a social welfare organization
quote:
The promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office. However, a section 501(c)(4) social welfare organization may engage in some political activities, so long as that is not its primary activity. However, any expenditure it makes for political activities may be subject to tax under section 527(f). For further information regarding political and lobbying activities of section 501(c) organizations, see Election Year Issues, Political Campaign and Lobbying Activities of IRC 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) Organizations, and Revenue Ruling 2004-6.

irs def

I think the fact that this happened in Cincinnati has nothing to do with Ohio being a swing state but because it is a regional (or national) office for processing these forms.

If individuals abused their power at the IRS those individuals should face appropriate consequences. I'm actually more concerned with the inappropriate request for a donor list than the additional scrutiny paid to organizations. Tea party groups were politically active and largely supported Republican candidates. With that knowledge groups claiming to be social welfare organizations while associating with a specific political organization are suspect.

In reality this is area of tax law is a joke and flagrantly abused by every end of the political spectrum. Just take a look at the super pac Colbert and Jon Stewart created to see the complete absurdity of what is allowed for these groups.

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scifibum
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I don't think the type of group in question is quite the same as a PAC, super or otherwise. That is, I think a super PAC does exist primarily to further a political campaign, and doesn't pretend otherwise.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
G3, I'm not equating concern over unfair or illegal auditing procedure to birtherism. I'm equating the conviction that this is part of some nefarious plot instituted by Obama, regardless of whether there is any evidence for that, to birtherism.

Then were do you think the directive to do this originated from? The chief counsel of the IRS was briefed on that targeted scrutiny being given to political opposition. You think the IRS did it all on their own, just happened to decide "Let's get Barry's enemies!"?

A little background:
quote:
In April 2012, VanderSloot, who served as the national co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential finance committee, was one of eight Romney backers to be defamed as ”wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records” in a post on the Obama campaign’s website. The post, entitled “Behind the curtain: a brief history of Romney’s donors,” singled out VanderSloot for being a ”litigious, combative and a bitter foe of the gay rights movement.”

Two months later, the IRS informed VanderSloot he and his wife were going to be audited, Strassel reported. Two weeks after that, VanderSloot was notified by the Labor Department that it was going to “audit workers he employs on his Idaho-based cattle ranch under the federal visa program for temporary agriculture workers,” reported Strassel.

During the time the IRS was actively targeting conservative groups, they just happen to go after a Republican backer - as well as the Labor Dept. Coincidence?

There are so many of those little coincidences aren't there? You know what we call that? A pattern.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
I don't think the type of group in question is quite the same as a PAC, super or otherwise. That is, I think a super PAC does exist primarily to further a political campaign, and doesn't pretend otherwise.

That's the point, really. A large number of what are effectively PACs are trying to masquerade as social welfare groups to avoid both taxes and donor disclosure rules that come with being an outright political organization.

Also, this is a loophole that's currently primarily being exploited by conservative groups saying that the policy was biased in application implies that there's equal abuse, when the reality is that it's possible that there simply aren't as many liberal groups that are trying to wiggle out of being regulated as a PAC.

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G3
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Looking at the report obtained by ABC News, we can put together a few facts. As far back as three years ago, two different IRS units were coordinating efforts and raising questions for management to answer. Managers made decisions about the effort to pursue Tea Party groups as early as April 2010.

Almost two years later, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told not one but two House committees that nothing of the sort was transpiring. There is no way the chief counsel would not have notified the commissioner of this activity, unless the chief counsel knew the commissioner was already aware of it or the chief counsel is a moron - which I doubt he is.

Obviously, that "low level staffers" thing was a blatant lie as was the original timeline put forth.

Let's reiterate; a skilled liar, when caught, admits to a relatively minor half truth to get away with a big lie. That is precisely what happened here but the big lie is too big to paper over with the little lies.

[ May 13, 2013, 12:36 PM: Message edited by: G3 ]

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scifibum
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quote:
There are so many of those little coincidences aren't there? You know what we call that? A pattern.
I wonder if anyone has attempted to demonstrate an actual pattern, instead of isolating details that promote a particular narrative and using those.

Here's what a real reporter would ask:

1. How many audits are conducted each year?
2. Is there any evidence that the audits against prominent Republicans ticked upward during election season? (How many party officials were audited the prior year? How many during Bush's administration? Did it change?)
3. What were the results of the audits? Were problems found? Were they found at a different rate when you compare the political affiliation of audited taxpayers?

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G3
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Sure, I'd love a reporter to ask those questions as well as all the other questions raised. What do you think, that gonna happen? What does recent history tell us will happen?

[ May 13, 2013, 12:38 PM: Message edited by: G3 ]

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G3
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Even Kucinich knows:
quote:
Former Democratic Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich slammed the unethical targeting of conservative Tea Party groups by the IRS on Fox News Sunday’s panel, unequivocally suggesting that this was political targeting at its worst.

After dropping the disclaimer that he is a “liberal Democrat” and does not celebrate Tea Party politics, Kucinich firmly claimed politics has no place with the IRS:

“We can not have a condition in America where peoples politics are the basis for IRS attacks.” …

Wallace countered, asking if Kucinich thought the IRS’s missteps were straight up political targeting:

“How can it not be?” Kucinich concluded.


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Pyrtolin
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It's salty as the rude pundit tends to be, but at least it's a more coherent summary of the order of events here:

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-irs-scandal-isnt-scandal-but-it.html

quote:
Look, we know how this went down: Post-Citizens United, the Internal Revenue Service was flooded with applications for tax-exempt status for whatever organization a couple of f*sacks with a tricorner hat wanted to start. "Social welfare" groups, they were called, and they could not be involved with specific political candidates or advocacy (although, you know, c'mon). So the IRS told its low-level drones who had to look at all the f*sack applications to flag ones that looked hinky. So the low-level drones, who are overworked to begin with because Congress won't give the IRS the funding it needs to do its f*ing job, used some search terms.

It's 2010 and who are the f*sacks who are everywhere? The "Tea Party" groups. So, sure, fine, let's f*in' search that. Low-level drone 1 tells low-level drone 2 (and for god's sake, they live in the dull, dull, boring, dull city of Cincinnati, so give 'em a little break), "Hey, just use 'Patriot' as a search term and you'll get your job done faster because if there's one thing we know, it's that a whole bunch of these applications are from crazed f*sacks applying for tax-exempt status because they hate them that black guy in office." Low-level drone 2 might have said, "Oh, s*t, that'll get us in trouble." But low-level drone 1 had a convincing argument by saying, "You wanna get to the bar sooner?" By the way, chances are that LLD 1 and LLD 2 have been LLDs forever, under at least one GOP president.

Does this narrative need to be completed? Sure, fine: A mid-level IRS drone discovers what's happening and says, "Whoa, whoa, you can't just go after the costumed f*sacks. You gotta look at everyone." At which point at least one LLD contemplated suicide, surely. So MLD went to the higher-ups, like Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations, who said, "Aw, f*, don't you know that the f*sacks are gonna cause a ruckus over this s*t? Change it up." And then the IRS started to look at any group that criticized "how the country was run." Then, because that stunk of Tea Party bulls*t (even though it encompassed many groups), the standard was then changed to "political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform movement." And then, a year ago, that was changed to "organizations with indicators of significant amounts of political campaign intervention."

No group was denied anything because of the extra scrutiny. And as soon as someone higher than a low-level drone found out about what the LLDs were doing, it was addressed and changed. To say that Barack Obama had something to do with that is to say that Rupert Murdoch should be arrested every time Sean Hannity lies on the air.


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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
It's salty as the rude pundit tends to be, but at least it's a more coherent summary of the order of events here:

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-irs-scandal-isnt-scandal-but-it.html

quote:
And as soon as someone higher than a low-level drone found out about what the LLDs were doing, it was addressed and changed.

That is obviously not true. It went on for years with management and the IRS chief counsel aware and participating. That talking point is the little lie told to provide cover.
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Seneca, I just think you should stick to the facts. The facts don't presently indicate that Obama had anything to do with this, do they?

Also, can you really not see how political groups whose names suggest they exist to protest taxation might attract some interest from the IRS?

I haven't seen anybody saying there should be no investigation, or no consequences for people who violated policies in choosing groups to audit. In fact, it seem plausible to me that they were motivated by political bias and should be censured.

But if you insist this goes all the way to the top, and anyone who isn't convinced of that is refusing to address the subject matter, I think you're well ahead of yourself.

G3, I'm not equating concern over unfair or illegal auditing procedure to birtherism. I'm equating the conviction that this is part of some nefarious plot instituted by Obama, regardless of whether there is any evidence for that, to birtherism.

Whatever happened to "the buck stops here?"

George Will pointed out that using the IRS this way was part of the impeachment articles against Nixon.

http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/12/george-will-on-irs-tea-party-attacks-how-stupid-do-they-think-we-are/

quote:
Will noted that one of the items in the 1973 impeachment articles of then-President Richard Nixon, which ultimately led to his resignation, described the Nixon administration’s use of the power of income tax audits in a “discriminatory matter.”

“This is the 40th anniversary of the Watergate summer here in Washington,” Will said. “’He has, through his subordinated and agents, endeavored…to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigation to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner,’ — Section 1, Article 2, the impeachment articles of Richard Nixon.


Read more: " target="_blank">http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/12/george-will-on-irs-tea-party-attacks-how-stupid-do-they-think-we-are/#ixzz2TC6qW3wS[/quote]

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