It seems the IRS has been doing much more than just targeting conservative groups seeking a tax-exempt status. According to a report published Tuesday at the Wall Street Journal, 100 percent of 501(c)(4) groups audited by the IRS were established conservative organizations, said House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.
“We now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s,” he said in his opening statement.
"At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83% were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100% were right-leaning,” he added.
House Democrats pushed back, claiming Republicans are trying to use the IRS scandal as a wedge issue in the upcoming elections.
“Instead of this prestigious committee using its broad jurisdiction to address critical issues that confront us, it has been consumed by a tireless effort by Republicans to find political scandal, regardless of what the truth holds, as they look toward the November election,” Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said.
Camp touted the “STOP Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act,” which he said would prevent the Obama administration from legally silencing conservative organizations using IRS regulations for a one-year period.
He also said the committee made its discovery without having what he called "the full universe of documents requested from the IRS," including thousands of documents from Lois Lerner that have not been provided.
"Simply put, our investigation is not yet over, the document collection is not yet complete, and I don’t believe the IRS or the FBI has interviewed a single victim. The notion that the Administration would rush forward with rules intended to remove these groups from the public forum, is simply unacceptable," he added.
According to the proposed IRS rules, 501(c)(4) groups would not be allowed to hold candidate forums, participate in get out the vote efforts, nor conduct voter registration.
"These rules are a blatant attempt to legalize and institutionalize targeting by the IRS, and are designed to put conservative groups out of business. It is no wonder the IRS tried to develop this rule behind closed doors and out of the public’s view. This legislation will put a hold on these proposed rules until Congress completes its investigation into the IRS’s abuses," Camp added.
According to the IRS, the proposed rules have received more than 23,000 comments from the public.
The bill passed the committee with a 23-13 vote.
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