August 1, 2013


Conservatives 'Won' the Phony IRS Scandal. And Democrats Helped Them. (ALEC MACGILLIS, 7/29/13, New Republic)

 It's easy to forget, just a few months on, just how much the media lost its head over the story, fueled by, and in turn reinforcing, statements of outrage from panicked Democrats, including those at the White House. Politico, to cite just one example, had more than a dozen pieces on the scandal on its home page the day after it broke, far outweighing even its hyperventilation over the two concurrent scandals du jour, Benghazi and the Department of Justice's monitoring of AP phone records. The hysteria was not abated by reporting in the days immediately following that strongly suggested that the scandal amounted more to bureaucratic bungling in attempting to enforce the muddled law around 501(c)(4) organizations than a grand conspiracy to suppress conservative groups.

In the weeks since, even more has emerged to put the outrage in dubious light. We know that one key staffer in the Cincinnati office overseeing the 501(c)(4) evaluations, a self-described conservative Republican, avowed to congressional investigators that there was no political motivation behind the scrutiny for Tea Party groups, testimony that Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican leading the charge against the agency, tried to keep from getting out. We know that the IRS Inspector General who produced the report that touched off the whole scandal, a former Republican Hill staffer, had overlooked signs that some non-conservative groups were getting flagged for extra scrutiny as well. We know that the IRS office did nothing to stop the big election spending by large conservative groups like Crossroads GPS, hardly what you would expect to see if there was a conspiracy to suppress activity on the right.

More and more, it looks as if what happened in Cincinnati was that agency staffers lacking direction from their Washington superiors on how to enforce an unworkable law amid a wave of applications from groups that seemed to be testing the vague bounds of that law did what bureaucrats in such situations tend to do: stalled for time, kicked the problem upstairs and sent out more and more paper in the form of needlessly nettlesome questionnaires to the applicants.

Posted by at August 1, 2013 7:13 PM

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