The IRS scandal continues to make news. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly recently asked Barack Obama some questions about the IRS practice of discriminating against conservatives applying for tax-exempt status. Mr. Obama said the people at the IRS were “confused” and made some “boneheaded decisions,” but he claimed there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS. Hundreds of conservative and Christian organization applied for 501(c)4 status and were grilled about their private lives, even the content of their prayers and their support for pro-life protests.
Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, expressed shock about Mr. Obama’s statement: “Thomas More Society has defended six pro-life organizations whose First Amendment rights were trampled upon by the IRS because of the group’s dedication to the sanctity of life. In fact, in May and August of 2013, Thomas More Society produced two memos to the House Committee on Ways and Means, totaling over 500 pages of evidence that the IRS specifically targeted and harassed pro-life and conservative charities, illegally questioning their religious activities and withholding their tax-exemptions.
“Frankly we are shocked that President Obama would state that there was `not even a smidgen of corruption’ involved in the IRS scandal. The Obama administration must stop making excuses to cover up the IRS’ illegal activity and instead deal justly with the corruption and scandal that occurred.”
Cleta Mitchell, an attorney representing some of the IRS-targeted conservative groups, testified recently at a congressional hearing into the scandal. Ms. Mitchell was questioned by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida) if she agreed with Mr. Obama’s assessment of the situation. She called his argument “Absolutely false.” She then cited a report revealing “that of 162 organizations being scrutinized by the IRS, 83 percent of them were conservative groups.” Jay Sekulow, another attorney testifying on behalf of his clients, said the IRS’s targeting of conservatives had a “chilling effect.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina) did not like Mr. Obama’s claim that there is not even a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS abuse scandal. You can see Rep. Gowdy tear Mr. Obama’s argument to shreds here.
Lois Lerner was an executive at IRS in the beginning of the scandal but refused to testify before Congress during the investigation into misconduct at the agency, taking the “Fifth Amendment.” The House Ways and Means Committee recently obtained emails showing that Lerner worked on the new rules for targeting conservatives in secret with officials at the Treasury Department. “The regulations, which are currently pending, would allow the IRS to crack down on political activity by non-profit groups. A June 2012 email from a Treasury official to Lerner suggests that they work `off plan’ – bureaucratic shorthand for keeping their meetings off of publicly available schedules – to devise the rules. Critics say the rules that resulted would permit agents to shut down dissent by non-profit groups.”
In spite of all the charges of corruption at the IRS, the agency announced it would pay bonuses to their employees. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, does not think IRS employees should be rewarded for targeting conservative political groups. “The IRS is accused of targeting conservative groups, with many of its employees having conducted themselves in a manner inappropriate for government officials, and the agency decides to reinstate employee bonuses? This is outrageous.”
It appears that Mr. Obama and his minions are the only people who believe there is not a “smidgen” of corruption in the IRS. Is it fair to consider the reinstatement of bonuses to IRS employees to be “hush money?”