Testimony on the Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal, given before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today, reveals a cynicism regarding the Obama Administration's protests regarding corruption.
According to the testimony of attorney Jay Sekulow:
"The genesis of IRS targeting lies not with overwhelmed workers facing a flood of unexpected applications but instead with alarmed politicians confronting the unexpected emergence of a new political movement."
Jay Alan Sekulow, J.D., PhD, also stated:
"The rise of the Tea Party coincided with (though was independent of) the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United versus the Federal Election Commission, a decision that affirmed the First Amendment rights of citizens speaking through corporations and thereby broadened free speech opportunities for political dissenters. Stripped of the ability to explicitly limit corporate free speech, the Obama Administration launched a public-relations offensive against conservative groups."
Obama rebuffs idea of corruption
Even though President Obama tried to rebuff the idea of corruption in an interview with FoxNews' Bill O’Reilly, statements from attorneys for those selected for special attention indicate the targeting is still seen as being politically motivated.
The President stated in the interview that IRS officials were confused about how to implement the law governing those kinds of tax-exempt groups, but the people involved seem unconvinced.
Thanking the committee for "ongoing efforts to get to the truth of the IRS abuse of hundreds of citizens grassroots organizations across the country" for the last four years, attorney Cleta Mitchell wondered what was being done since the Presidential announcement last May that Attorney General Eric Holder and the FBI would conduct a full investigation into the IRS scandal.
"In fact, Mr. Chairman, the IRS targeting is still going on today. As we sit here ... the IRS has not stopped its targeting of conservative and tea party organizations for special mistreatment."
Prior to 2009, Mitchell stated that an application for c4 status would only take three or four weeks to process. And because "... contributions to a 501c4 organization are not tax deductible to donors, there is no real tax consequence to the IRS related to a c4 organization." Mitchell further added:
"Beginning in the fall of 2009, this IRS under this administration began to stop the processing of applications for conservative c4 and c3 status of groups on the BOLO list: tea party, patriot, or other terms on the list."
Mitchell said that "it became clear" back in 2010 that "something had changed at the IRS."
Questions 'beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry'
While helping a client with the applications in 2011, she contacted the Cincinnati IRS office and was told "... that the Washington, D.C. office of the IRS had taken over the processing of the applications and the Cincinnati office was awaiting instructions from Washington."
A few months later her client, as well as other conservative applicants began receiving letters requesting, in the case of her client, 102 answers to 102 more questions. She described those requests as "burdensome, intrusive, outrageous."
And now she supposes that the Obama Administration is "whitewashing the past" and trying to permanently keep the organizations from exercising their rights.
Sekulow also brought up remarks from the IRS, made by Lois Lerner the former director of exempt organizations, on May 10, 2013. Sekulow said:
"Her words were clear: 'They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate.' "
That extra special scrutiny "... delayed the processing of their applications for a period of years and also resulted in intrusive questions from the IRS that were far beyond the scope of legitimate inquiry," Sekulow stated.