No, IRS targeting not phony scandal

Published on Sunday, 9 February 2014 21:13 - Written by

The evidence is clear — the Internal Revenue

Service targeted groups opposed to President

Barack Obama in the months leading

up to the 2012 elections. Even Obama himself

admitted as much.

Now, however, he calls the debacle a “phony

scandal,” and put the investigation in the hands of

one of his loyal supporters. And he says questions

about issue are “unfair.”

Man up, Mr. President. You owned the scandal

before. And you’ll continue to own it, whether you

acknowledge it or not. It’s denials and claims of “unfairness”

that are prolonging the scandal — not Fox

News or the conservative media.

It’s useful to recall the facts of the case. The Associated

Press’s timeline of the scandal begins in

June of 2011.

“Lawmakers send the first of at least eight letters

asking the IRS to address complaints that conservative

groups are being subjected to burdensome

screening in their applications for tax-exempt status,”

the AP reports of those early days of the scandal.

“June 29: Lois G. Lerner, in charge of overseeing

tax-exempt organizations at the IRS, learns at a

meeting that groups are being targeted, according

to the inspector general. Lerner is told that groups

with ‘Tea Party,’ ’Patriot’ or ‘9/12 Project’ in their

names were being red-flagged. Statements in case

files that are critical of the country’s leadership or

that want to ‘make America a better place to live’

also prompt examination.”

As the election nears, the targeting gets worse,

AP explains.

“Now the IRS is on the lookout for references to

the Constitution or Bill of Rights in the materials of

organizations seeking tax-exempt status, for ‘political

action type organizations involved in

limiting/expanding government,’ and more,” it


In March 2012, the cover-up begins, when “IRS

Commissioner Douglas Shulman tells Congress

there is ‘absolutely no targeting’ of groups based on

their political views.”

That story fell apart in 2013, when Lerner, called

before Congress, apologized for the targeting, but

then invoked her Fifth Amendment rights and left a

congressional hearing.

Obama initially called the targeting “outrageous.”

“There’s no place for it,” he said in a Super Bowl

game-day interview with Fox. “And they have to be

held fully accountable.”

That was then; this is now.

Now he says there was “not even a smidgen of

corruption.” Rather, “There were some bone-headed


Worse, he complained that the IRS scandal was

only lingering because of Fox News and the conservative


As Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law

and Justice (the legal group representing many of

those targeted by the IRS) notes, “The intentional

misuse of government office to deprive Americans

of their constitutional rights and thereby sway the

outcome of public debates is the very essence of

corruption in a constitutional republic. Drafting the

government bureaucracy into partisan politics is

more than a ‘boneheaded mistake,’ it’s a threat to

the integrity of our democracy.”

And finally, it’s beneath a sitting president to

complain about fairness — something more commonly

heard on the elementary school playground

than in the corridors of power.

Responsible elected officials own up to their mistakes.