Darrell Issa Wants the IRS Inspector General to Try This "Proof of Tea Party Targeting" Thing Again

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 29 2013 5:10 PM

Darrell Issa Wants the IRS Inspector General to Try This "Proof of Tea Party Targeting" Thing Again

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If at first you don't succeed ...

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

How did the story we now commonly refer to as "the IRS scandal" come into existence? House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa asked the IRS inspector general to follow up on rumors that conservative groups were having trouble getting tax exemptions. The IG was asked "to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations," and he did.

That story's been petering out, because Issa continues to overpromise what's going to come out next. (This doesn't seem to bother Peggy Noonan, but the rest of the media's gone to sleep on the story.) What's the solution? If you said "ask the IG for another narrowly focused investigation," congratulations!

In a letter from Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan, the IG is being asked to dig into reporters of tax-exempt conservative groups being subjected to audits. Based on information from conservative nonprofits like the Free Congress Foundation, the Leadership Institute, and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, Issa and Jordan ask the IG whether any groups were targeted "for audits or examination based on their political beliefs or ideology."* The answers on this in the first investigation were inconclusive, as were the stories, but they should be grist for something. "In at least one instance," the Republicans write, "a Tea Party group applying for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) received an information request letter from the IRS asking about its affiliation with Leadership Institute."

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The last couple of months suggest where this is heading. The Leadership Institute is obviously conservative, and run by longtime RNC committeeman Morton Blackwell, but plenty of liberal groups with 501 statuses are run by partisans—and they weren't audited in 2011 or 2012, were they?

*Correction, July 30, 2013: This post originally misspelled the name of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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