An Odd Connection Between Scandals
The problem is that this is false. And there is an absolutely bizarre coincidence that links the government source of the Democrats’ position today, the media-darling attacker that took Herman Cain’s candidacy down, and the official government defender of the Clinton administration taking Elian Gonzalez from his Miami family at gunpoint to force him back to Cuba
They’re all the same woman.
The Progressive Accusation
“Audit of IRS actions limited to Tea Party groups at GOP request” say the headlines. Who says? A very partisan Democrat who is the spokesman for the Treasury Department Inspector General’s office, supposedly. However, this exact quote is oddly devoid of time or context — and other bits in the articles are simply false.
Like most of these reports, this one does not mention the “spokesman’s” name. The headline is tied directly to the Inspector General:
The Treasury inspector general (IG) whose report helped drive the IRS targeting controversy says it limited its examination to conservative groups because of a request from House Republicans.
But the very next paragraph, after the one above describing Russel George oddly as an “it,” shows that this statement did not come from him:
A spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, said they were asked by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”
The odd thing is what’s left out here. The quote “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations” sounds like something from the IG report itself, describing what the IRS did, not what the IG was asked to do. I am not able to find the rest of the sentence.
It’s a clever gambit: A left-wing (and activist) political operative tells a left-wing news outlet something that contains a phrase that can be lifted and republished. If her call to The Hill contained that phrase somewhere, even if out of context, it suits her purposes as well and she would not complain.
That left-wing operative, the “spokesman” for the Inspector General J. Russell George, has an interesting history including three events that were the focus of national news.
Kraushaar in 2000:
“Elian is very interactive with his adult caregiver. He was calm on the flight and he bonded with her immediately,” Kraushaar said. “We determined very early on that she would be the appropriate person for this operation. She had all the pieces we were looking for. As a law enforcement officer she was wedded to a very scary situation and she performed admirably.”
Ten years later, Fidel Castro proudly released a photo of a 16-year-old Elian Gonzalez in his “Young Communist” uniform.
Kraushaar in 2012
Kraushaar in 2013
So here we are. The bit of phrase that is quoted seems odd, and I’ve not been able to find what was in front of that quote. Let’s imagine a bit of that conversation. If Kraushaar called up The Hill or vice versa, a piece of the conversation might have contained something like this (which happens to match the evidence):
The Hill (imaginary): “What started this investigation?”
Kraushaar (imaginary): “Issa asked us to look into why the IRS was using these BOLOs to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”
I believe that it was a conversation something like this that produced: “Issa asked us … to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”
The inspector general’s audit found that groups seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “patriots” in their name did receive extra attention from the IRS, with some facing years of delay and inappropriate questions from the agency.
At least they admit this. The questions, by now widely known, were ridiculous.
But top congressional Democrats have wielded new information from the IRS this week that liberal groups were also flagged for extra attention on the sorts of “be on the lookout” lists (BOLOs) that also tripped up conservative groups.
But the evidence says otherwise. The appearance of “progressive” was not on the active BOLO, it was on ONLY the “historical” one, indicating that some progressive groups.
The spokesman for the Treasury inspector general noted their audit acknowledged there were other watch lists. But the spokesman added: “We did not review the use, disposition, purpose or content of the other BOLOs. That was outside the scope of our audit.” The admission from the inspector general comes as Democrats have sharpened their criticism of George, with Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) dubbing the audit fundamentally flawed on Monday.
This is without context. The context was twofold:
- This was not an active BOLO item. It was listed as a “historical,” something they’d looked at in the past.
- It was also not hostile. It was a caution that some political progressive groups were seeking IRS501(c)3 status (charities) but should really be seeking IRS(c)4 (public welfare/political) groups.
So, this “criticism” is fundamentally flawed. False, in fact.
Levin, the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, stressed to The Hill on Tuesday that the inspector general did not say the audit was limited to Tea Party groups when it was released in mid-May.
Because, of course, it wasn’t. The Treasury IG examined 300 cases, and only a couple of them were “progressives” — and were not held up. Moreover, no progressive organization has put up any documented or made serious claims of the mistreatment that conservative groups have documented.
The Michigan Democrat also maintained that the audit’s shortcoming had emboldened Republicans to try to link the targeting of Tea Party groups to the White House.
They tried to use a deposition of a “conservative Republican” to refute this link. I’ve now read that entire transcript, and will post on it this weekend. The short story: Hilarious. A huge number of “I don’t remember” (relating to the job he’s been doing for the past three years). He also professes to have no idea what the small team working form him does. And he was gently caught in a number of false statements. I’m amazed that the Democrats took pains to have “I’m a conservative Republican” placed on the record twice during this interview — which was done with Republicans and Democrats questioning him alternately, an hour at a time (with breaks).
Levin’s office first disclosed on Monday that the term “progressive” was also included in the lists until this year and urged the Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to bring George back for more testimony.
Remember that it was on the “historical” lust only. And no one professed any evidence that it was actually used for selection, unlike the “Tea Party/patriot/Constitution” and similar words that were used.
And while the inspector general’s office has not said they knew about BOLOs flagging liberal groups, Ways and Means Democrats said Monday that progressive organizations were among the almost 300 groups the inspector general examined for his audit.
Indeed. Four of them out of 300, cleared in normal times.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), who questioned George about whether liberal groups were singled out at an Oversight hearing last month, also said Tuesday that it appears the inspector general’s answers “were at best incomplete, if not misleading.”
Camp and other Republicans have insisted that the evidence so far points to conservative groups receiving more scrutiny from the IRS, even if organizations across the political spectrum were on BOLOs.
This is wrong. Organizations “across the political spectrum” were not getting anything like the grief to which conservative groups were subjected, and many got special, fast turnarounds. And, as we’ve learned, some got handed confidential information about conservative groups, from whom the IRS was illegally demanding donor lists and more.
Republicans at the House Oversight panel, for instance, have noted that the watch lists specifically said that Tea Party applications should be sent to Washington for examination, while the progressive entry does not.
Correct. The progressive entry was to make sure they had the right kind of application, 501(c)4 instead of (c)3 as appropriate. And it was not a current, Obama-administraion entry in any event. It was on an older page of historical issues.
GOP lawmakers have lobbed their own criticism at George, with Issa noting that the inspector general allowed Holly Paz, an IRS official at the center of the controversy, to sit in on interviews.
More on that tomorrow.
“It’s one thing to say we listed them all down,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), a senior Republican on the Oversight panel. “To me, it’s still the exact same fact. They targeted conservative groups. Some groups still haven’t had any resolution to their application for tax-exempt status.”