The standard the IRS began applying to conservative groups in 2010 was bad enough. Demands for information about donors, and even what the group’s members were reading, are downright chilling.
But the most damning aspect of this entire debacle is that liberal groups were given a pass on the scrutiny conservative groups were receiving. Yesterday, the IG’s report blamed the singling out of conservative groups on incompetence. I guess this means that liberal groups got a lot more…competence?
In February 2010, the Champaign Tea Party in Illinois received approval of its tax-exempt status from the IRS in 90 days, no questions asked.
That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn’t be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.
In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.
As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like “Progress” or “Progressive,” the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups.
The spin from the left suggests that the scrutiny the IRS began giving conservative groups in 2010 was the result of an avalanche of new groups forming at the beginning of the tea party movement. It was appropriate, these spinners suggest, that the IRS give all these new groups additional scrutiny.
Of course, the scrutiny applied is inherently inappropriate, but if the IRS was just taking good-faith precautions why did liberal groups get a different standard?