I hold government bureaucrats to a much higher standard than the average citizen. Government bureaucrats have been given both power and the trust of people. So whether your primary concern is cronyism or government corruption or just plain incompetence, government bureaucrats are guilty until proven innocent. They must embody both virtue and integrity if our government is to function in a reasonable manner. Our founding fathers wrote extensively about virtue so I am puzzled why anyone would let Lois Lerner and the IRS dabble with politics. It was not in the best interest of the IRS or the country.
So let’s review what we know about the IRS targeting particular 503c4 applications for more scrutiny. The advantage of 503c4 corporations is that the donations they receive are tax deductible and anonymous as long as they were focused on social welfare issues like voter registration. This was pretty handy to the NAACP in the early years when they were trying to get more blacks registered to vote. If an organization steps over the political line, the remedy is that the IRS pulls their tax exempt status. If we look at the True The Vote website we can see that their mission is “equipping citizens to take a stand for free and fair elections.” Using the NAACP as the standard then the True The Vote effort looks very similar but for a different group of people. If the IRS is following standard practices they should approve the True The Vote 503c4 status and gently remind them that they will yank their tax exempt status if they cross over the line. That is what they should have done.
Instead the IRS chose a variety of tactics that brings in to question the integrity of the organization.
- They targeted certain group based on their use of certain words for extra scrutiny.
- They requested more information from the organizations than was required for the IRS to do their job.
- They delayed the approval status for a very long time.
Obviously this involves a lot more effort by IRS then the traditional route of granting 503c4 status and threatening to yank the tax exempt status later. The IRS had the means and opportunity to harass prospective 503c4 organizations but what was the motive?
In the Washington Times today we have begun to gain a little insight into the motive.
IRS emails released Wednesday show that just before the tea party targeting scandal was revealed last year, Lois G. Lerner and her colleagues at the tax agency were talking with the Justice Department about making examples out of nonprofit groups that they felt were violating campaign laws by playing political roles.
Okay, why was the IRS considering suing nonprofit groups when they could easily yank the tax exempt status? Who put them in charge of enforcing campaign laws? This sure looks like a motive and makes it look like they deliberately chose to violate the trust of the people so they could play hard ball politics from the security of the IRS office! Now we are confronted with the dilemma of how to rebuild trust in the IRS without firing everyone. If Congress does not set an example with the IRS now then what will stop a Republican president from using the IRS in the same manner? Thanks to Lois we are reminded that trust is easy to lose but very hard to win back.