I mentioned it on the air Friday, but had few details at that time.
It is indeed a developing story, and it developed significantly over the weekend.
Now the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that it is much worse than originally thought.
We are now learning that the IRS not only targeted groups using the word "tea party," "patriot" and "9/12 Project," but they have also been flagging groups using a number of other words, including those groups who advocate and lobby to "make America a better place to live."
And it is not as originally reported that only some low level employees were aware and responsible for the IRS actions.
I am talking more about this on my live radio broadcast this morning at 9 AM, PDT. You may listen on these stations in Washington State or here on your computer, or by getting a free app for your phone and listening on the go, anywhere. I am re-broadcast each evening at 7:30 PM, PDT.
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that, according to a government probe into this matter, it is worse than originally thought and the tax agency was using "sweeping criteria to scrutinize conservative groups."
They say not only did the IRS target groups using the words "tea party" and "patriot," but also groups who are raising concerns over government spending, debt or taxes, and even groups that advocated or lobbied to make "America a better place to live."
The Jewish Press also reported this weekend that Jewish organizations have also been a target of the IRS. They reported that "Z-Street," a passionate pro-Israel organization and other pro-Israel groups that disagree with the administration's position on Israel have been targeted.
They said this:
From the Jewish Press:
The passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was “connected to Israel,” its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny. This admission was made in response to a query about the lengthy review of Z STREET’s tax exempt status application.
In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
And at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel. Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
While the IRS has released an apology of sorts, many feel it is contrived, offered only because they got caught, and, according to Tea Party leaders, "unacceptable."
Rep. Michele Bachmann R- Minn., House Tea Party caucus leader, called the IRS "the most feared government agency" and wondered if Obamacare which will be enforced by an expanded ( 15,000 new agents) IRS will target conservative voices opposed to President Obama with delays and denials of medical care.
She also says she thinks this may have been allowed to become public by the administration because the Benghazi matter has gotten away from the administration, they are no longer able to silence or spin it and felt this, although embarrassing, would be a diversion.
Certainly the Benghazi fiasco is, if the House Republicans remain vigilant in pursuing the matter, a failure that will negatively impact both the President and Hillary Clinton and her aspirations to be president. It is becoming clear that the State Department not only failed in executing their job, but lied to the American people.
As far as the IRS inquisition, I don't think they purposefully released the story as a distraction.
I think they thought they could cover it up, discovered they could not, so then took what they thought would be a pro-active approach and declared it was a few low level people who, unknown to leadership, were doing this targeting and harassment of conservative groups.
Their story line was, "Once we discovered it, we took immediate steps to correct it and we apologize."
The problem with that line is that the Wall Street Journal is reporting that what happened is some what different than their explanation.
The Journal say, "But questions continued to swirl about the failure of the IRS officials to disclose problems until the inspector general's report was about to become public."
They say, "The timeline contained in the draft report indicates that IRS scrutiny of tea-party and other conservative groups began as early as 2010 and came to the attention of Ms. Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt organizations division, at least by the following year."
"The criteria for heightened scrutiny continued to evolve over the next year or so, even as complaints from tea party groups---and questions from GOP lawmakers--- mounted over IRS inquires to various group's activities."
WSJ also reports that "in 2010 and 2011, some IRS workers weren't only singling out groups because their names contained certain words, as IRS officials suggested Friday, but appeared to be probing for indications of political interests or leanings."
Is this happening in America?
Jay Sekulow chief counsel for the Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has been involved in this matter for some time on behalf of tea party groups.
Jay said, "We knew from the very start that this intimidation tactic was coordinated and focused on specific organizations."
He says, "The admission by the IRS represents a significant victory for free speech and freedom of association." He further says, "this underscores the need to stand up and defend your constitutional freedoms."
Indeed it does.
But it also leaves some lingering questions, reminding us we must remain vigilant.
- If the administration is willing to use the IRS for political purposes, what agency would they not use?
- The IRS will be expanded by 15,000 agents as Obamacare fully kicks in beginning in 2014. These agents will enforce the policies of Obamacare. Will they abuse their power? Will they deny or delay access to medical care for conservatives?
- Some senators are asking what the administration is planning to do with the copious personal information the IRS likely obtained illegally?
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-0hio said, "The fact that Americans were targeted by the IRS because of their political beliefs is unconscionable."
Indeed it is, however the government has also declared war or the right of conscience.
ABC 's "This Week" opened this topic yesterday with this line from George Will: "Friday's revelation that the IRS targeted conservative groups prior to last year's election was certainly reported but not with nearly the outrage as if a republican administration went after liberals this way."
Will posed the question, "What if George W. Bush's administration had targeted groups with the word 'progressive' in their title, we would have all hell breaking loose."
It is breaking loose, George.
This is why Americans have got to stand strong for our freedoms. And we must pray fervently for a spiritual renewal, and an awakening that can only come from God.
Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.