Has the IRS been spying on conservative organizations in order to make information that it collects, available to Liberal groups? It certainly looks that way.
Let me make that as clear as possible. It appears the IRS has been targeting Conservative groups, obtaining extensive information from those groups, and then, because the IRS information is now "public information," that information may be requested by a citizen or an organization, and the request granted by the IRS.
The IRS appears to have run a scam that obtained detailed information, far more detailed information than is required from organizations that apply for non-profit, tax exempt status, and then made that information available via "public information requests" to anyone who asked for it.
According to Liberal Media "Investigative" News Organization, ProPublica, The IRS "...released nine pending confidential applications [for tax exempt status] of conservative groups to them last year.
The revelation by ProPublica on its website "www.propublica.org," states that the IRS sent them the information "...In response to a request [by ProPublica] for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November..."
Author of the article, Kim Barker is billed, in part, on ProPublica's web site:
"..She's specialized in "dark money," or social welfare nonprofits that do not report their donors for election ads..."Barker (with co-writer Justin Elliot) reports that the IRS sent them applications or documentation for 31 groups, and that nine of those applications had not yet been approved:
"...meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)..."ProPublica wrote about those organizations in an article published on their web site on Jan 2, 2013. The article states:
"...Five conservative dark money groups active in 2012 elections previously told tax regulators that they would not engage in politics, filings obtained from the IRS show..."Barker writes:
"...Much hangs on these applications, all of which are still pending. The tax code allows social welfare nonprofits to engage in political activities as long as public welfare, not politics, is their primary purpose. If the IRS ultimately decides not to recognize these groups, they could have to disclose their donors...Such decisions, along with IRS' oversight of social welfare nonprofits overall, have come under increasing scrutiny as these groups have assumed an ever larger role in elections, pouring an unprecedented $322 million into the 2012 cycle..."According to Barker, the IRS sent the applications to ProPublica in response to a public records request:
"...although the agency is only required to supply these records after groups are recognized as tax-exempt. (ProPublica also obtained the pending application of Crossroads GPS, the dark money group launched by GOP strategist Karl Rove that spent more than $70 million on the 2012 elections, which we wrote about separately.).."Barker explains also that:
"...The IRS confirmed that none of the groups had been recognized as tax-exempt and referred ProPublica to its earlier response about Crossroads' application. In that email, the IRS cited a law that says publishing unauthorized tax returns or return information is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, or both.."She quotes an email from Americans for Responsible Leadership lawyer, Jason Torchinsky:
"...If you willfully to (sic) print or publish in any manner any information about Americans for Responsible Leadership that you do not lawfully possess — and which may or may not be complete — you will be doing so in violation of (the law) and we will not hesitate to report such unlawful publication to the appropriate law enforcement officials..."(See That Article HERE)
While ProPublica bills itself as "an independent non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest," it is also described this way:
"...ProPublica's investigations are conducted by its staff of full-time investigative reporters and the resulting stories are given away to news 'partners' for publication or broadcast..."Notably:
"...In some cases, reporters from both ProPublica and the news partners work together on a story. ProPublica has partnered with more than 90 different news organizations, including 60 Minutes, ABC World News, Business Week, CNN, Frontline, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, USA Today, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, MSN Money, MSNBC.com, Politico, Reader's Digest, Salon.com, Slate, This American Life, and NPR, among many others... In 2010, it received a two-year contribution of $125,000 each year from George Soros' Open Society Foundations..." (Source: Wikipedia)I would note also that not included in the above "partners" of ProPublica are any Conservative or Libertarian Media.
While the ProPublica request, and the IRS granting of "public" document requests appear to adhere to legal guidelines, the action by the IRS of targeting Tea Party and Conservative groups with interrogatories that require detailed disclosures, beyond the normal requisites, and then releasing those details to investigative "news" organizations that are their political opponents, that action smacks of the government gaining access to an organization's information via its police powers, and under the threat of the use of force, and then making that information (because, now in the government's possession that information becomes "public") available to the target organization's political opponents.
It is despicable enough that the IRS was targeting specific groups politically. Yes they have admitted doing so and apologized. But the greater transgression is that government bureaucrats have been using the IRS as a tool to obtain information from targeted groups to make that information available to its political opponents.
Quite clever, don't you think? George Will asked yesterday, "How stupid do you think we are?"
Phrasing that a different way, the question might well be:
"How stupid are you that you thought no one would find out what you've been doing?"
When an organization, such as the IRS, which already has enormous power to confiscate, arrest, and incarcerate, is then used to spy on American citizens for the current administration's political purposes, that organization, in our Constitutional republic, has betrayed its purpose and has forfeited its right to exist as a government agency.
The resignation of its directors, and the administrators and perpetrators of such transgressions is not enough. Such an organization can never regain the confidence of its citizens, after betraying their trust in such a manner. Only the dismantling of that organization, the elimination of any semblance of it that contains any manner of threat to violate the rights and guarantees of citizens granted to them by the Constitution, and the replacement of that agency with one that will never again be able to rise to that level of corruption can be acceptable to Americans at this time.