John Sexton at Breitbart’s Conversation reports that the Majority Staff for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has produced a memo which updates its investigation into the IRS treatment of Tea Party groups.
It concludes that media attention generated by President Obama and the Democratic Party led the IRS to treat Tea Party applications for 501(c)(4) status differently than other groups.
One of the key points of the 19-page memo is that a public campaign organized by the White House led the IRS to scrutinize Tea Party groups:
In 2010, the Obama administration and its allies orchestrated a sustained public relations campaign seeking to delegitimize the lawful political activity of conservative tax-exempt organizations and to suppress these group’s rights to assemble and speak. The impetus was a Supreme Court opinion, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, handed down on January 21, 2010. In the wake of the Court’s decision, senior Administration officials criticized the influence of so-called “corporate” money in the political process.
As the memo points out “These calls to arms did not fall on deaf ears at the IRS.” The memo then highlights the video of Lois Lerner first published at Breitbart last month, transcribing the entire thing as evidence that the IRS was keenly aware of the political pressure around them (footnote 33 cites this story). As the memo puts it, Lerner was “echoing President Obama’s public statements.” Issa’s staff offers other examples of pressure placed on the IRS, including a memo from Dick Durbin which was distributed by IRS official Joseph Urban.
Issa appeared on Fox earlier today to talk about the report.
Martha MaCallum asked about the fact that so far a evidence has not been found that shows a direct link between the White House and the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.
Issa replied, “when the president shook his finger and chastised the Supreme Court in the well of the House during a state of the Union speech over Citizen’s United, he began a process of making it very clear that he had a problem with the court’s interpretation of free speech and as he and others began to show that they were offended by what the tea party was saying – in other words he respected free speech if progressives said it but not if conservatives said it because their speech was “hate speech” – I think he set up a situation that can show the IRS was sympathetic to. Their discovery, their targeting, their denying due process to tea party groups had to do with what they said – not their right to say it.”
Issa also reiterated his intention to have Lois Lerner back “to follow up on her assertions during earlier testimony” because she waived her 5th Amendment rights. But “she wasn’t alone”, Issa made sure to add. “One of the challenges we’re going to have is to get each of the individuals in – all of whom appear to be in Washington – and find out who they talked to outside of the IRS, and it’s more and more clear that they received information both publicly and privately into Washington IRS, and they acted on it.”
Linked by Doug Ross, thanks!