Did the IRS Confuse the Tea Party with the NAACP?

Recently I did some research and figured out the NAACP is probably the best example of political activism by a 501(c)3/501(c)4 organization. While the national organization is a 501(c)3 organization, the local affiliates are 501(c)4 organizations. The national organization has strict requirements on its political activism so it is up to the local affiliates to promote voting in the black communities. When you use the 2012 presidential election voting demographics to compare the organizational effectiveness, the Associated Press concluded in its study of the 2012 election that for the first time black voter turnout rate exceeded the white turnout rate. When you look at this result the NAACP can claim that they were more successful than the conservative organizations at getting their constituency out to vote. They also successfully fought off the IRS investigations into their tax exempt status in 2004. Their “Election Year DOs and DON’Ts” document is an example of excellent, proactive instructions to their affiliates that should keep the organization safe from IRS scrutiny. In the case of political activism by a non-profit, the NAACP is arguably the best in the class. They successfully avoided extra IRS scrutiny while showing a measurable success on the voter turnout issue.  From this point of view it would not be surprising that “Tea Party” and other organizations interested in increasing the vote within their constituency would copy the organizational structure and some of the tactics used by the NACCP to improve their organizational effectiveness while staying compliant with IRS regulations. Although students of organizational effectiveness might say some non-profit organizations are “NAACP-like”, the average man or woman would never use “NAACP-like” to describe the “Tea Party” organizations. It is equally unlikely they would use “Tea Party” as shorthand  to describe the NAACP. Are we to believe that the IRS personnel commonly used the term “Tea Party” to describe the political activity by the NAACP? According to Ms. Paz that is exactly what the IRS did. If her statement is true, the IRS is naïve and probably incompetent. If the IRS was using a shorthand for politically active tax exempt organizations then the term “NAACP-like” would be a more logical shorthand term. It has more syllables but it is the organization all politically active tax exempt organizations are trying to copy. It has the additional advantage that when IRS personnel say they are scrutinizing political activities in “NAACP-like” organizations since it recognizes that the NAACP is the model everyone is following and it would be difficult for the average person to conclude that the IRS was targeting “Tea Party” organizations. The simplest solution would have been for the IRS to spend an extra second on a few extra syllables and use the term “politically active tax exempt organizations” to describe the organizations they were targeting. If Ms. Paz’s statement is false, then she is lying and attempting to cover up the IRS targeting of conservative groups in direct violation of IRS policy.

Instead, Paz described an agency in which IRS supervisors in Washington worked closely with agents in the field but didn’t fully understand what those agents were doing. Paz said agents in Cincinnati openly talked about handling "tea party" cases, but she thought the term was merely shorthand for all applications from groups that were politically active ”” conservative and liberal.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/fired-irs-supervisor-in-dc-contradicts-claim-tea-party-targeting-was-isolated-to-cincinnati-office-2013-6#ixzz2WTMqteJe

The Game is On!

Wow! On Sunday the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released partial transcripts of its interviews with several IRS agents. The Administration releases important data on Friday afternoon and Congress releases explosive testimony on Sunday. The game is on and John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog was on top of it. It is hard to reconcile micromanagement with the Administration’s rogue agent explanation. The cover-up just reached a new level. Here is part of what he said. You can read the rest of it here.

Earlier today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released partial transcripts of its interviews with several IRS agents. These interviews formed at least part of the basis for Chairman Darrell Issa’s characterization of White House spokesman Jay Carney, who claimed that the IRS scandal was the work of a couple of rogue agents, as a “paid liar” on CNN this morning. You can read the partial transcripts here. These are some excerpts:

Q: But just to be clear, she told you the specific names of these applicants.
A: Yes.
Q: And she told you that Washington, D.C. had requested these two specific applications be sent to D.C.
A: Yes, or parts of them.

Separated at Birth, Watergate and the IRS Scandal

The IRS scandal in which they targeted 501(c)4 applications with Tea Party or Patriot on them for further investigation is the most bone headed political maneuver since Watergate. Every time I think about Watergate I am amazed someone thought this was both necessary and that they could get away with it. I read Ezra Klein’s article expressing his concern that “the IRS has permitted 501(c)4s to grow into something monstrous”. When I tried to figure out how dangerous 501(c)4s had become, I was not impressed. If there is a problem with money in politics, it is represented primarily by 527 corporations like Moveon.org for the progressive side and Crossroads for the conservative side and not 501(c)4s. You would think the IRS had enough problems with the public’s perception of the organization without adding partisan politics to the mix. Talk about an organization that took its eye off of the ball. That leaves me with the unenviable comparison to the abuse of political power demonstrated in the Watergate scandal. I was hoping we had learned our lesson in Watergate.