The IRS illegally concentrated on conservative groups trying to declare themselves as tax free groups. They looked for groups with the words "Tea Party", and "Patriots" in their name, as well as for any group that objected to government' taxation. They did so at low level management and below. High level managers were apparently kept in the dark about this program.
They claim it was not for partisan reasons., but instead was because they had these new political organizations popping up, and they wanted a way to find those that objected to taxes and therefore should have their taxes double checked to make sure they were obeying the law that they themselves objected to.
Perhaps the IRS is lying and it was really done for partisan reasons. I don't know.
But you should in fact consider the following.
Under US federal law, followed by the IRS law, all political action groups HAVE TO PAY TAXES. There is NO legal way for political organization to avoid paying taxes.
What certain groups do is get around this by claiming they are social welfare groups. For example, you could claim to be teaching people about guns, rather than a gun lobbying group.
So before you get all upset about the IRS targeting conservative political groups, the real problem is that they didn't target liberal political groups.
If you have ANY stated political claims, you should get extra IRS scrutiny when trying to claim you are a social welfare group as opposed to a political group.
The problem is not the auditing, but the apparent partisanship. They could and should have done everything they actually did - and also target with the words "Occupy" in their names and with stated goals of overturning our banking system.
If they had done that, this entire fiasco would never have happened. We would have said "Look, they went after both conservative and liberal groups, equally, it wasn't partisan."
Why didn't they do it?
The IRS was too politically naive to understand how it would look. They were too stupid to realize they were only going after conservative groups. They were honestly trying to go after tax cheats by looking at people that said they objected to taxes.
Their main problem was that they did not think about appearances, not that they had evil goals. In fact, if they actually were evil, all they had to do to cover their tracks was add the word "Occupy" to their memo about Tea-Party/Patriot, do a couple of half-hearted investigations of a few liberals groups as cover, and they would have been safe from the charges currently being bandied about.
Or better yet, actually do a full investigation of the Occupy groups along with the T-Party groups and they would not only be without sin, but wearing the white hats in reality.
This is a scandal. But just a tiny one. Whether it was done intentionally or accidentally, it was done by incompetent people.
I am not afraid of incompetent people. Over time, they will always be discovered and fail.
Compare this with the Bush partisan hiring scandal in the Justice Department. The DOJ scandal was done by much more competent people. Worse, they took steps to cover their tail - but in the end were caught. Eventually some admitted that they were hiring and firing people based on political reasons. They refused to hire/promote liberals and intentionally fired people because they were liberals. You can read the official report (investigate and written up by a Republican) here.
But I digress. The DOJ is not the IRS. It's not as if the IRS targeted liberal groups under George Bush.
Oh wait, they did: They targeted liberal churches for being political, while at the same time ignoring conservative churches for doing practically the same thing. Not to mention targeting the NAACP
This is a scandal, but a minor one, that has happened before and will happen again. The people involved should be yelled at and reminded that appearances matter.
In addition, any settlements, fines, and/or punishments given out to those groups should be double-checked and reversed if they were found to be more severe than warranted. As for reparations for legal fees and efforts, I think the free publicity for anti-government groups should be considered sufficient compensation. Any organization worth their tin foil hats should be able to come out far ahead from this event.
It is not surprising that the GOP is trying to turn this relatively minor scandal into a big thing. Particularly as the conservatives groups were already upset about taxes (which is why of course the IRS targeted them in the first place).
Did the IRS screw up?
It is a bid deal?