05.14.2013 0

The IRS Predicted Scandal: Baucus Demanded IRS Investigation Before He Condemned It

By Rick Manning

The IRS targeting conservative groups has reached scandal stage in record time in Washington, D.C. with even Michael Gerson writing in the Washington Post,

It is precisely because police powers are essential to the public good that abusing them is so offensive. The same holds for overzealous or corrupt airport-security agents. And it is doubly true with IRS personnel who misuse their broad and intimidating powers. It is enough to bring out the Samuel Adams in anyone.”

Senate Democrats also jumped on the bandwagon of criticism, most notably led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus who promised Committee hearings saying in a release on the Committee website:

“These actions by the IRS are an outrageous abuse of power and a breach of the public’s trust. Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable.

“Americans expect the IRS to do its job without passion or prejudice. We need to get to the bottom of what happened here. I want to see all the facts. We need to know who knew what, and exactly what mistakes were made. The American people have questions for the IRS and I intend to get answers. I want to review the Inspector General’s report first, but the IRS should be prepared for a full investigation into this matter by the Senate Finance Committee. The IRS will now be the ones put under additional scrutiny.”

The outrage after the 2012 elections is palpable from both sides of the aisle as a consensus is developing on Capitol Hill that political points can be scored by beating up on the one part of government that everyone hates — the IRS.

But the Internet may not be kind to those Democrats like Max Baucus who demand the IRS hides today.  Veteran Bing or Yahoo! users can easily find that the retiring Senator from Montana had a different view of what the IRS should do back in 2010 in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that clarified what third party groups could do related to electioneering.

In 2010, Democrats were scrambling to pass something known as the DISCLOSE Act which was designed to stifle political speech of those who traditionally opposed them.

The inconvenient Internet reveals that Senator Baucus was a leader in demanding that the IRS investigate outside groups way back in 2010.  In a letter he wrote to the Agency, Mr. Baucus wrote:

“I request that you and your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5) and (c)(6) organizations involved in political campaign activity to examine whether they are operated for the organization’s intended tax exempt purpose and to ensure that political campaign activity is not the organization’s primary activity. Specifically you should examine if these political activities reach a primary purpose level — the standard imposed by the federal tax code — and if they do not, whether the organization is complying with the notice or proxy tax requirements of Section 6033(e). I also request that you or your agency survey major 501(c)(4), (c)(5), and (c)(6) organizations to determine whether they are acting as conduits for major donors advancing their own private interests regarding legislation or political campaigns, or are providing major donors with excess benefits.”

Considering the over burdensome and intrusive questions — about donor histories, lobbying activities, connections to political campaigns, etc. — that the agency was asking of tea party and other groups, it appears Baucus’ request was fulfilled in full. Quite specifically.

Americans for Limited Government’s Bill Wilson immediately and forcefully responded to Baucus at the time writing in a widely discussed article:

“Not only has the tax code under section 501(c) been used to limit the types of speech that certain organizations can engage in — which on its face violates the First Amendment — now Baucus wants to use the IRS to intimidate groups and threaten their tax-exempt statuses ‘[e]ven if political campaign activity is not the primary purpose’ of the group. This is designed purely to have a chilling effect on the speech of any organizations that are otherwise lawfully exercising their rights to freedom of speech.”

As Wilson so clearly warned, Baucus’ letter, if followed by the IRS could only have led to the singling out and targeting non-profit groups not favored by the party in power. That was clearly Baucus’ intent in 2010, so it is hypocritical even by Washington, D.C. standards for Montana Max to show faux outrage now that it has been revealed that the IRS did exactly what he asked.

As Democrat politicians jump on the carcass of the already dead man walking IRS officials, let the voter beware.   In the world of spin control, it is more likely that they are trying to control the investigation and headlines about the scandal than actually getting to the bottom of it.

Because more than likely, you can find the bottom by looking at their own demands of the Agency and it is almost certain that Max Baucus and the congressional Democrats don’t want to look in that mirror.

If they did, the people might go all Samuel Adams on them ruining their hopes for the 2014 election.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for Americans for Limited Government

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