Remember When the IRS Targeted Conservative Organizations?

RNLA member Brad Smith wrote last week in the Washington Examiner to remind us about how the IRS under President Obama targeted conservative organizations, delaying their applications for tax-exempt status and asking harassing and illegal questions as part of the IRS' heightened review process for organizations with names containing such dangerous words as "Patriot":

Finally, last October, the IRS signed a consent decree in federal court in which it admitted to targeting conservative organizations for more than two years, from 2010 through 2013. . . . This IRS targeting of conservative organizations in the run-up to the 2012 election should be one of the major scandals of our time. Researchers from Stockholm University, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and the American Enterprise Institute concluded that a fully mobilized Tea Party, unhindered by IRS harassment, would have brought the Republican Party between 5 and 8.5 million votes. You may recall Obama won the popular vote by just under 5 million votes. 

Yet this issue has quietly gone away without any consequences for the wrongdoers, and the press has already started changing the history books: 

Instead, what we are now seeing is an outright attempt to rewrite history so as to whitewash the entire affair. Newsweek has gone so far as to call the scandal “fake news,” with one of its columnists calling it “a lie.” A Dec. 29 editorial by the Washington Post claims that there was “mismanagement … but not deliberate targeting.”

When the left and the media do acknowledge the targeting and harassment, they are quick to point out that liberal organizations were also targeted.  But as Prof. Smith notes, the IRS admitted that 75% of the organizations targeted were conservative-leaning, while less than 5% were progressive-leaning.  Prof. Smith concludes by reminding readers of the source of the targeting scandal: 

As we have documented elsewhere, in targeting conservative organizations in the run-up to the 2012 election, the IRS appeared to be acting at the suggestion, though not the direct request, of President Obama and leading Democratic lawmakers. This was not a case of mere “mismanagement,” but a bureaucracy responding to the political demands of the party then in power.

Congress should make sure that this never happens again, and act to get the IRS out of the business of regulating politics. 

The IRS targeting scandal reminds us to be wary of government bureaucracies with the power to regulate political speech, which is why legislation such as the misnamed "Honest Ads Act" and many informal proposals to respond to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election are so dangerous.