Perhaps it is just my overall frustration with media’s over dramatization of so much of the news. Perhaps it is my admitted lack of sympathy for a political philosophy with which I have great difficulty finding common ground. For those and probably a host of other reasons – I need to vent about how silly (how I would politely describe it) I think this news story is. If you don't want to read my rant -- you could read my prior post from this time last year, which explains my position in a less ranty fashion.
As many people have heard (especially if you are a tax-law nerd like myself), the IRS mucked up some exemption applications submitted by Tea Party-like groups. In order to group together applications for more consistent treatment (in theory), the IRS underlings (supposedly) used terms that specifically called out Tea Party groups, Patriots, and others seeming to adopt that overall philosophy. Is anyone besides me NOT SURPRISED? Really?
Maybe it’s just that I am in Minnesota and thus have had to suffer through Michelle Bachmann (formerly a darling of the Tea Party movement) – but I hear Tea Party/Patriot/whatever variation you want to use – and I think political movement. They want to elect new candidates, right? They had a caucus in Congress, right? It is a set of political ideas, right?
Sure, they could be conducting primarily “social welfare” activities and not political/electoral activities. However, it is entirely possible that they were going to conduct primarily electoral activities. I think that the fault in this targeting is due less to the IRS – and more to simply timing and circumstance. The Tea Party organizations submitted their applications in a climate in which it was abundantly clear that some c4s (e.g., Crossroads GPS) were completely abusing their tax-exempt status. The news cycle was filled with stories about c4s immersing themselves in electoral work. Since then, it hasn’t improved: studies by watchdog organizations, congressional hearings, compliance questionnaires, etc. Is there any question that political activities by c4s have been a concern? In that context, is it really surprising that Tea Party organizations were grouped together and scrutinized? Not to me.
Please check out my update/continuation of this rant!