For months, Democrats have argued that the so-called scandal at the Internal Revenue Service is not in fact a scandal because the tax agency did not only single out conservative groups for extra scrutiny -- progressive groups were targeted, too. And on Tuesday, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee produced yet more documents to prove their point.
Over the last couple months, Republicans have released documents to prove the IRS targeted conservatives while House Democrats have countered with their own documents proving both sides of the aisle were singled out. Though House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has acknowledged this fact, he and his fellow Republicans have continued to see political motivations buried in the IRS mismanagement.
The latest document dump in the IRS affair includes a 2010 training presentation that instructs IRS employees to screen both “progressive” and “tea party” groups applying for tax-exempt status. The initial news on the IRS’ targeting highlighted the agency use key words like “patriots” and “9/12 project” to single out conservative groups. But as Democrats have been saying for months now, Tuesday’s documents also show that buzzwords meant to single out progressive groups were included in “be on the lookout” (BOLO). These included the word “emerge,” a reference to the progressive Emerge America network. Three state-level Emerge groups were denied tax-exempt status in 2011, according to the New York Times. For some reason, the word “emerge” was redacted from the document when it was released by the IRS in July. Tuesday’s documents also showed that the BOLO lists included terms meant to detect successor groups to the now-defunct ACORN. The IRS no longer uses BOLO lists.
“Once again it is clear that the Inspector General's report left out critical information that skewed the audit's findings and set the stage for Republicans to make completely baseless accusations in an effort to tarnish the White House,” Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement.
“This new information should put a nail in the coffin of the Republican claims that the IRS' actions were politically motivated or were targeted at only one side of the political spectrum,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House oversight committee. “It is time for House Republicans to stop trying to score political points and start to focus on reforming the IRS.”