“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstone of this presidency.” — Barack Obama
Transparency must have a different meaning to Obama that its definition provided by numerous dictionaries. After several congressional hearings and investigations related to the IRS scandal of censoring conservative and/or Christian groups prior to the 2012 Election, the IRS has finally revealed that it wasn’t transparent.
In 2013, the IRS claimed it targeted less than 300 conservative groups prior to the 2012 Election. In actuality, the IRS targeted 426 organizations.
In a Washington Times article, “IRS finally reveals list of tea party groups targeted for extra scrutiny,” it turns out that it took three years for the IRS to finally admit that it targeted tea party and conservative groups for “intrusive scrutiny. The Times reports that the IRS released a “near-complete list of the organizations it snagged in a political dragnet.”
Last month, the IRS was forced to comply with federal rulings to file its list last month. The Times reports:
The tax agency filed the list last month as part of a court case after a series of federal judges, fed up with what they said was the agency’s stonewalling, ordered it to get a move on. The case is a class-action lawsuit, so the list of names is critical to knowing the scope of those who would have a claim against the IRS.
But even as it answers some questions, the list raises others, including exactly when the targeting stopped, and how broadly the tax agency drew its net when it went after nonprofits for unusual scrutiny.
The government released names of 426 organizations. Another 40 were not released as part of the list because they had already opted out of being part of the class-action suit.
That total is much higher than the 298 groups the IRS‘ inspector general identified back in May 2013, when investigators first revealed the agency had been subjecting applications to long — potentially illegal — delays, and forcing them to answer intrusive questions about their activities. Tea party and conservative groups said they was the target of unusually heavy investigations and longer delays.
Edward D. Greim, the lawyer who’s pursuing the case on behalf of NorCal Tea Party Patriots and other members of the class, said the list also could have ballooned toward the end of the targeting as the IRS, once it knew it was being investigated, snagged more liberal groups in its operations to try to soften perceptions of political bias. Sixty of the groups on the list released last month have the word “tea” in their name, 33 have “patriot,” eight refer to the Constitution, and 13 have “912” in their name — which is the monicker of a movement started by conservatives. Another 26 group names refer to “liberty,” though that list does include some groups that are not discernibly conservative in orientation.
The media is not reporting this. The “most transparent presidency” has stonewalled federal judges for three years to not provide information about a list of hundreds of people against which a taxpayer-funded agency was targeting, penalizing, and censoring.
Would this have happened under a Republican president? Would the media be reporting on this scandal if it was not Obama? The answer is, “unlikely.” Instead, this widespread abuse of power is an example of fraud and unconstitutional acts committed against U.S. citizens with the goal of preventing them from being involved in the electoral process. It’s also an example of what transparency is not.
This article was first published on June 7, 2016.