Progressives urged IRS to revoke conservatives’ tax-exemptions in 2012

The online petition platform Change.org hosted multiple petitions during the 2012 presidential campaign from users who urged Lois G. Lerner, director of the Internal Revenue Service’s Exempt Organizations Division, to revoke the tax-exempt status of conservative organizations including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

Lerner is currently under fire after she admitted that her division targeted conservative and Tea Party nonprofit groups for extra scrutiny in 2012, for which she apologized Friday. The IRS began targeting conservative groups for extra audits in 2010, well before the petitions appeared.

NOM released a statement Monday accusing the IRS of leaking confidential information during the presidential campaign revealing that Mitt Romney had contributed to the group.

“There is little question that one or more employees at the IRS stole our confidential tax return and leaked it to our political enemies, in violation of federal law,” said NOM president Brian Brown.

“We’ve seen in recent days an admission that the IRS intentionally targeted conservative groups for harassment and scrutiny,” Brown said, “but what NOM has experienced suggests that problems at the IRS are potentially far more serious than even these latest revelations reveal,” Brown said.

A petition created approximately one year ago by self-identified former NOM employee Louis Marinelli bore the title, “Lois G. Lerner: Revoke 501(c)4 tax-exempt status of the National Organization for Marriage.”

Marinelli’s petition stated that NOM does not meet the IRS’ standards for 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations, which must “not be organized for profit and must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare,” according to the IRS.

“As a former member of the National Organization for Marriage’s paid staff, I can attest to the fact that the organization fills no social welfare purpose. Instead, the organization is privately about advancing a religious doctrine which would align it more under the rules of 501(c)3 for religious and church organizations,” Marinelli wrote in the introductory statement for his petition.

“Furthermore, I witnessed on several occasions during my time with the organization how tax-exempt financial resources were used rather exorbitantly to pay for staff member’s meals and accommodations. Trips to casinos and regular steak/lobster dinners at elite restaurants in Washington, D.C. and frankly anywhere their staff travels puts into question whether or not they are organized for financial benefit of their staff,” Marinelli wrote.