Monday, July 1, 2013

The Fake IRS "Scandal" is Officially Over

For over a month now conservative pundits, Republican shills and Tea party dead enders have been decrying the Obama IRS "scandal". These individuals and groups have claimed that on orders from President Obama himself the IRS targeted conservative groups denying them 501(c)(3) tax exempt status during the 2012 Presidential election so there would be more money flowing to the Democrat thus ensuring they (i.e. Obama) would win the white house.

It's a nice and tidy conspiracy theory but if you only listen to the partial information being floated into the ether by the whacko Republican clown show all hot for a new Obama toppling scandal.

When the "scandal" broke the Republicans cried out for arrests, perp walks and jail sentences to be handed down to whomever was responsible for this heinous act of treasonous malfeasance aimed towards (the totally non-political) tea-party groups. The comparisons of President Obama to Richard Nixon blanketed the airwaves and echoed in the Senate and Congressional halls. The word "impeachment" driped off the lips of any right wing politician or pundit that could saddle up to a live microphone.

With a straight face they argued that the Tea Party wasn't looking to push the Republican agenda or opposed to President Obama's re-election. They claimed they absolutely weren't looking to cheat the government out of their fair share of taxes. By the way doesn't the "t.e.a." in Tea Party stands for "taxed enough already" and didn't they come into existence only weeks after Obama's 2008 election win… Why are we even questioning the reasoning behind why the IRS wanted to take a closer look at them?

Feeling full of justified rage all the right wing players shouted that the proof was right there in front of everyone to as plain as day. Sure enough there were documents obtained from the IRS showing that there were BOLO (be on the look out) alerts for any group asking for tax exempt status that had the words "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in the name. Boom! Smoking gun, game over, case closed!

So after the right wing cable news, pundits and the blog-o-sphere went bat shit, frothing at the mouth crazy all the while clamoring for the head of President Obama and all the others involved in this crime here's what happened....

Smelling blood in the water House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called hearings immediately and brought in all the people who oversaw the evil operation. This unfortunately was contained to a few overworked employees in a small IRS office in Columbus, Ohio. But Issa knew evil had been perpetrated and wasn't going to let a lack of proof stand in his way in exposing President Obama's vile plan.

After weeks of secret hearings Issa went on the political talk show circuit to proclaim that the investigation turned up information showing that the scandal went all the way to Washington… To the top! Goodness, proceed to clutch pearls and get the vapors!

So at this point everyone waited for Issa to release the full transcript of the hearings to read all about the evil deed. One problem… Issa wouldn't release them. When asked why he wouldn't release the full transcript Issa gave no real answer saying only that releasing them would be "reckless," arguing that doing so could prejudice future interviews. 

What would happen next….?

Well what happened next was that Ranking Minority Member of the same Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), gave Issa a Friday deadline to release the transcripts of all the interviews that have been conducted... then a Monday deadline... Then when Issa ignored him on Tuesday, Cummings followed through with his threat, and released the full transcript of a key interview with an IRS employee at the heart of the agency's scandal.

Oh no!!!

Why "oh no" you ask. Well let's start with this…

IRS official who Issa and the House Committee questioned was John Shafer, a manager of the tax-exempt division in the IRS Cincinnati office, who identified himself as "a conservative Republican" and said he'd worked for the IRS since 1992. Shafer then said that it was he and a fellow screener initially flagged a tea party group and continued to do so with subsequent applications in order to maintain consistency in the process. Shafer said the BOLO's in question were applied not for purposes of punishing conservative groups, but to ensure that similar organizations were being categorized and screened by the same group of IRS officials. The concern, he said, was that two different tea party groups would get two different decisions on non-profit status. So, the Cincinnati office developed filters to make sure that everything was categorized as cleanly as possible

Then the question of the White House and President Obama's role in the devious plan was addressed.

Shafer was asked… "do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decision to screen Tea Party cases?" To which he replied, "I have no reason to believe that."

Shafer was then asked..."Do you have any reason to believe that anyone in the White House was involved in the decisions to centralize the review of Tea Party cases?"  To which he replied, "I have no reason to believe that,".

Shafer was then asked if he had "ever communicated with [then IRS] Commissioner Shulman about the screening of Tea Party cases?" To which he replied, "I have not."

Shafer was then asked if he told his screeners to specifically pull Tea Party cases. To which he replied,"Again, I was not asking them for those kind of cases,… If I would have directed them to pull our Tea Party cases, little Susie's Tea Party would have been pulled and it wasn't."

Finally let me explain the dagger in the heart of this fake, made up, pretend scandal.

It turns out that The Internal Revenue Service also targeted progressive and Democratic leaning groups applying for tax-exempt status in addition to conservative ones! Democratic staffers on the House Ways and Means Committee released a copy of a BOLO list Monday that showed the word "progressive" was one of those filters. A word exclusively associated with Democrats and left leaning organizations.

In addition documents and an internal IRS report being sent to congressional committees reveal that the tax agency also used terms that included not only the word "progressive" but also "health care legislation" "medical marijuana" "Green Energy Organizations" and "occupy" to flag for extra scrutiny before the 2012 elections. I would say those selected words were also pretty much left of center wouldn't you agree?

In any event this revelation coupled with Shafer's testimony completely destroys the supposed political "scandal" that the conservatives and Republicans have been trying to hang on the White House and President Obama. Now that it has come to light that the agency's BOLOs were applied to organizations across the ideological spectrum can we please lay this lie to rest?

All this "scandal" proved to be was the product of overworked bureaucrats in a division of the IRS in Cincinnati grappling with a wave of difficult-to-define organizations looking for tax-exempt status.

I think we can all agree that it is time to put this one out tea baggers. This joint is spent.

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