Anyone who follows the news is rightly outraged about the recently revealed Internal Revenue Service scandal, in which conservative groups applying for tax-exempt nonprofit status were given extra scrutiny. But it’s possible that this is the least troubling aspect of a much wider scandal.
We only have anecdotal evidence, but there have been troubling reports that the IRS targeted individual conservative financiers who opposed Obama administration policies, journalists who challenged the president and other conservative groups at odds with the Obama administration.
Let’s review the record.
First, there’s billionaire businessman Frank VanderSloot. A major donor to a Mitt Romney super PAC and the co-chair of the Romney campaign’s national finance committee, VanderSloot was one of eight Romney supporters targeted in an April 2012 Obama campaign blog post as an unseemly businessman.
VanderSloot told The Daily Caller in a recent interview that though he was only audited once by the IRS some three decades ago before the Obama campaign attacked him. After the attack, he or his business interests were subjected to three audits in four months. The IRS was responsible for two of the audits. The Labor Department was responsible for the third.
What’s more, VanderSloot says he isn’t the only major Mitt Romney donor who was targeted. Speaking of his seven compatriots who were attacked in the same Obama campaign posting, he said, “I don’t know that everybody [that] was on it [was] audited. I don’t know how many were. I know that I’m not the only one. I do know that.”
A conservative pro-Israel group, Z Street, says it was targeted in 2010 when it applied for tax-exempt status. According to the group’s leaders, they were told by the IRS that the application was sent to a “special unit … to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
Earlier this week, local Missouri TV journalist Larry Conners said that he thinks his tough questioning of President Obama in a 2012 interview may have prompted an IRS audit.
“Shortly after I did my April 2012 interview with President Obama, my wife, friends and some viewers suggested that I might need to watch out for the IRS. I don’t accept ‘conspiracy theories’, but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me,” he wrote on Facebook.
Later, seemingly under pressure from his employer, Conners backtracked and said on air that his IRS troubles started before the Obama interview. But since his employer is apparently barring him from doing interviews on the matter — at least that’s what he claimed on Twitter — we can’t know for sure whether he still feels targeted.
A conservative Catholic professor is now also saying that she believes she was targeted by the IRS for her op-eds criticizing President Obama.
These are just a few examples that emerged or resurfaced after the IRS scandal broke Friday. There are also other questionable incidents involving the IRS and the president’s political opponents that occurred during the 2012 presidential campaign and before.
During the 2012 presidential campaign, for instance, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that he knew Mitt Romney’s private tax records, which he said showed the former Massachusetts senator paid no income taxes.
“The word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for 10 years,” Reid said on the Senate floor in August 2012. “Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.”
Also during the campaign, the National Organization for Marriage, a socially conservative political group, claimed that the IRS leaked private information indicating that Mitt Romney’s political PAC had donated money to the organization.