No one was targeting conservative groups. These political groups had applied for tax-free status and were being vetted for approval — as ALL groups must be before being granted tax-free status.
To get 501(c)(4) status, the group has to be working on social welfare programs as well as doing its political work. No more than half of its activities can be political. The IRS is tasked with making sure these guidelines are followed.
So, were they just looking at conservative groups? Here’s something from last week’s Congressional hearings:
Rep. Peter Roskam, R-IL: “How come only conservative groups got snagged?”
Outgoing acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller: “They didn’t sir. Organizations of all walks and all persuasions were pulled in. That’s shown by the fact that only 70 of the 300 organizations were tea party organizations, of the ones that were looked at by TIGTA [Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration].”
That’s only about 25 percent.
But even though the truth is that right-wing groups weren’t targeted any more than anyone else, this is their story and they’re sticking to it because if you repeat a lie long enough, people will believe it.
Remember what happened with ACORN after the fake news story with pseudo-journalist James McKenzie posing as a pimp that was nothing more than a cleverly set up and carefully edited lie. It took down an organization that helped people register to vote.
The right-wing groups want people to believe they’re being persecuted, even though they’re not.
Or perhaps there’s good reason for their paranoia.
The reason these groups want 501(c)(4) status is because it allows them to keep their donors hidden, and they want to protect their sugar daddies and mamas.
Since the Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate money in elections, various groups have rushed to get 501(c)(4) status. The IRS, which is understaffed, didn’t have time to research every group, so its employees looked for flags that might suggest a group was mostly a political organization, which is ineligible for 501(c)(4) status.
Should IRS officials have searched for organizations with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names? Probably not. But that’s about the worst thing that happened here.Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.