The Internal Revenue Service has admitted that it explicitly targeted conservative groups for tax audits during the 2012 election season.
Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal reported during last year’s election that President Barack Obama had an “enemies list,” and those that found themselves on it could find themselves a target of the IRS.
The media discounted such charges and said the Obama administration was too clean to engage in such tactics.
David Weigel of Slate Magazine wrote that there was no evidence of this.
“There’s no evidence that Obama is using the tools of the government—as opposed to PR and speeches—to attack his enemies,” Weigel wrote.
Weigel criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute took issue with the fact that dozens of Tea Party groups had “received a lengthy questionnaire from the IRS demanding attendance lists, meeting transcripts, and donor information.”
Weigel, discounting the possibility that the IRS would target conservative groups, wrote that it was a good thing these groups were getting more attention.
“Maybe the IRS should demand data from new activist groups that want tax exemptions, but it’s irritating, a threat from the government,” Weigel said. “Taxpayer money was funding an inquest backed by the taxpayer-funded police force.”
The Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin also praised the IRS for targeting Tea Party groups.
“In a sign that the agency may be waking from its slumber, the IRS has sent detailed questionnaires to several Tea Party organizations,” Froomkin wrote.
Froomkin added that the information requested by the IRS is perfectly normal and appropriate.
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship dismissed the idea conservatives should feel targeted.
The two wrote that the complaints were nothing more than conservatives conjuring “images of Nixonian wiretaps and punitive tax audits.”
The American Prospect’s Paul Waldman also belittled the idea that anybody was truly targeted with government action.
Waldman directly responded to charges that Frank Vandersloot, a Romney-supporting businessman who was later audited by the IRS, was targeted by the government after being placed on the “enemies list.”
“Harassment from government officials? IRS audits? Baseless prosecutions? National Park Police pulling him over, smashing one of his taillights, then giving him a ticket for having a broken taillight? Well, no. But it is true that he was mentioned on an Obama campaign web site as a major donor to a Romney Super PAC. That’s the ‘enemies list,’” Waldman wrote.