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A New Conspiracy Theory: IRS Tea Party Targeting Helped Win The Election For Obama

IRS Tea Party

Stan Veuger and a group other scholars at the American Enterprise Institute came out last week with a study that claim that the IRS’s program of scrutinizing conservative organizations applying for 501(c)(4) status played a significant role in muting the Tea Party movement and, thus, the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election:

In a new research paper, Andreas Madestam (from Stockholm University), Daniel Shoag and David Yanagizawa-Drott (both from the Harvard Kennedy School), and I set out to find out how much impact the Tea Party had on voter turnout in the 2010 election. We compared areas with high levels of Tea Party activity to otherwise similar areas with low levels of Tea Party activity, using data from the Census Bureau, the FEC, news reports, and a variety of other sources. We found that the effect was huge: the movement brought the Republican Party some 3 million-6 million additional votes in House races. That is an astonishing boost, given that all Republican House candidates combined received fewer than 45 million votes. It demonstrates conclusively how important the party’s newly energized base was to its landslide victory in those elections, and how worried Democratic strategists must have been about the conservative movement’s momentum.

The Tea Party movement’s huge success was not the result of a few days of work by an elected official or two, but involved activists all over the country who spent the year and a half leading up to the midterm elections volunteering, organizing, donating, and rallying. Much of these grassroots activities were centered around 501(c)4s, which according to our research were an important component of the Tea Party movement and its rise.

The bottom line is that the Tea Party movement, when properly activated, can generate a huge number of votes-more votes in 2010, in fact, than the vote advantage Obama held over Romney in 2012.

(…)

President Obama’s margin of victory in some of the key swing states was fairly small: a mere 75,000 votes separated the two contenders in Florida, for example. That is less than 25% of our estimate of what the Tea Party’s impact in Florida was in 2010. Looking forward to 2012 in 2010 undermining the Tea Party’s efforts there must have seemed quite appealing indeed.

Unfortunately for Republicans, the IRS slowed Tea Party growth before the 2012 election. In March 2010, the IRS decided to single Tea Party groups out for special treatment when applying for tax-exempt status by flagging organizations with names containing “Tea Party,” “patriot,” or “9/12.”For the next two years, the IRS approved the applications of only four such groups, delaying all others while subjecting the applicants to highly intrusive, intimidating requests for information regarding their activities, membership, contacts, Facebook posts, and private thoughts.

As a consequence, the founders, members, and donors of new Tea Party groups found themselves incapable of exercising their constitutional rights, and the Tea Party’s impact was muted in the 2012 election cycle.

Veuger concedes, that we cannot know for sure, and are likely to never be able to know if the IRS’s program actually had any impact on the election or, if it did, whether that impact would have been in any way decisive. However, that hasn’t stopped many on the right from picking up the ball that he and running with it all the way to a full fledged theory that the IRS cost Mitt Romney the election. Yeuger’s AEI colleague James Pethokoukis doesn’t fully endorse the idea, but says that i that doesn’t stop him from accepting its essential viability by making these assumptions:

Some assumptions:

1. Let’s say Tea Party groups had continued to grow at the pace seen in 2009 and 2010.

2. And let’s further say that their impact on the 2012 vote would have been similar to that seen in 2010. A new paper co-authored by AEI’s Stan Veuger estimates the grass-roots movement generated 3 million to 6 million additional Republican votes in House races in the midterms.

3. The 2012 result would have seen as many as 5 million to 8.5 million additional GOP votes versus a President Obama victory margin of 5 million votes. And right around now, Mitt Romney would be pushing hard to implement his tax reform plan, and #44 would be launching the Obama Global Initiative.

All of these assumption are, I would submit, dubious at best. By almost every measure, and most especially in the vast amount of public opinion polling that occurred in the years leading up to the 2012 Presidential election, it was fairly clear that the Tea Party reached its peak in 2009 and 2010 when it first burst upon the scene in response to both the health care reform ideas being debated in Congress and, more importantly, what many perceived as the excessive spending and bailout mentality represented by the Obama Administration’s stimulus bill and proposals to bailout homeowners in trouble with their mortgages. Indeed, it’s worth noting that the event that led to the first “Tea Party” rallies in April 2009 was a commentary by CNBC’s Rick Santelli that went viral on the Internet in a matter of hours in March of that year. There’s no denying that momentum for this movement grew as the months went on, and most especially when Members of Congress went back to their Districts on summer recess to face hordes of angry constituents at Town Halls, many of which became quite heated. That momentum continued to build throughout 2009 and into 2010, culminating in such events as the protests at the U.S. Capitol during those final days that Congress was debating and voting upon the Affordable Care Act, which had already earned the moniker “ObamaCare.”

As the 2010 elections approached, Republican politicians clamored for the support of local and national Tea Party organizations, and the movement actually did score some real political victories. In Utah, incumbent Senator Robert Bennett was denied re-nomination by his own party thanks largely to a well-organized Tea Party movement at the state party convention. The movement also arguably scored “victories” of a sort in Alaska with Joe Miller, Nevada with Sharron Angle, and Delaware with Christine O’Donnell. Now, the fact that all four of these candidates ended up losing the General Election would ultimately end up becoming grounds upon which others in the GOP would begin to criticize the Tea Party, but they were successes. Additionally, there were several successful Senate candidates — Mike Lee in Utah, Rand Paul in Kentucky, and Marco Rubio in Florida — and many more House members who would be Freshmen in the 112th Congress, who benefited greatly from Tea Party support, and went on to win their elections. So, I think we can safely say that the Tea Party was a powerful force at the peak of its power in the wake of the 2010 elections.

Does it follow from that, though, that the movement would have continued growing at the same exponential rate all the way up to the Presidential elections? Given that it’s difficult for any political movement to maintain that kind of momentum over a long period of time, the intuitive guess would be that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the Tea Party to maintain the same growth and enthusiasm levels heading into 2011 and 2012. More importantly, as I noted above, things began to change drastically one the Tea Party began to demonstrate what it intended to do with its new power. While they weren’t a majority in either the House or Senate GOP Caucuses, the “Tea Party Caucus” as it was unofficially called existed in sufficient numbers to have an impact on how things were done in Congress and, to a large degree, it was not an impact that the general public seemed to appreciate. Legislation was blocked, deals were made impossible, and in August 2011 the nation was brought to the brink of not being able to pay all of its bills due to the imminent expiration of the debt ceiling. Overtime, the Tea Party, which had polled relatively well in 2009 and 2010, began to fall out of public favor to the point, where by the time 2012 rolled around, it was viewed largely negatively. In the Republican primaries for President, the Tea Party had almost no impact on the fortunes of the candidates that were seeking to appeal to it. Finally, in the most recent poll on the subject, only 23% of those polled had a positive view of the Tea Party while 47% had a negative view.

Given all of this, it strains credulity to accept either of Pethokoukis’s final two assumptions, which kind of makes the entire argument that it was the IRS investigations that held the Tea Party back in 2012 completely ridiculous.

That hasn’t stopped others on the right from taking Veuger’s study to the ultimate conclusion, though. Most notable among those so far is Peggy Noonan, who brought the matter up in her most recent column:

One of the great questions about the 2012 campaign has been “Where was the tea party?” They were not the fierce force they’d been in the 2010 cycle, when Republicans took back the House. Some of us think the answer to the question is: “Targeted by the IRS, buried under paperwork and unable to raise money.”

The economist Stan Veuger, on the American Enterprise Institute‘s blog, takes the question a step further.

The Democrats had been badly shaken by the Republican comeback of 2010. They feared a repeat in 2012 that would lose them the White House.

Might targeting the tea-party groups—diverting them, keeping them from forming and operating—seem a shrewd campaign strategy in the years between 2010 and 2012? Sure. Underhanded and illegal, but potentially effective.

(…)

Think about the sheer political facts of the president’s 2012 victory. The first thing we learned, in the weeks after the voting, was that the Obama campaign was operating with a huge edge in its technological operation—its vast digital capability and sophistication. The second thing we learned, in the past month, is that while the campaign was on, the president’s fiercest foes, in the Tea Party, were being thwarted, diverted and stopped.

Technological savvy plus IRS corruption. The president’s victory now looks colder, more sordid, than it did. Which is why our editor, James Taranto, calls him “President Asterisk.”

The leaps of logic that Veuger, Pethokoukis, and Noonan are engaging in here would made an Olympic high  jumper jealous. As I’ve already noted, it’s very dubious that the Tea Party movement of 2009-2010 would have maintained the same level of enthusiasm and growth in the run-up to the 2012 elections. Moreover, the extent to which the Tea Party was responsible for the GOP victories in 2010 is, at best, debatable. While they obviously paid an important role in keeping the enthusiasm of voters who otherwise identified as likely to vote Republican, exit polling after the 2010 election made it quite clear that the issue motivating most voters was the economy not jobs, not the issues that the Tea Party was raising such as government spending and health care reform. Given the state of the economy, it was quite likely that the GOP was going to gain seats in 2010 with or without the Tea Party, then, although you could possible argue that the wave that gave the GOP control of the House was in part due to Tea Party generated voter turnout. However, to a large degree, I would argue that the role the Tea Party played in the 2010 elections has been highly exaggerated by many on the right.

Another flaw in the Veuger/Pethokoukis/Noonan hypothesis is the idea that IRS scrutiny of Tea Party groups, leaving aside any motivation behind it for the moment, had any real impact on the 2012 election. As David Weigel notes, by this point in the Tea Party movement’s evolution the actual organization of the Tea Party was being handled by well-funded groups such as Freedomworks and Americans for Prosperity. Additionally, it’s public face could be seen in groups such as Tea Party Nation and Tea Party Patriots. All of these groups had tax-free status going back years and were not caught up in, or even affected by, what was going on with the IRS.  More importantly, as Wick Allison notes, it’s difficult to find any connection between the IRS’s examination of the 501(c)(4) applications of some number of mostly local Tea Party groups and the outcome of the 2012 Presidential election. More importantly, Allison points out that actual voter turnout numbers don’t support the theory either:

[T]he popular vote for GOP House candidates in 2012 was 58 million compared to 2010-s 45 million. Instead of being incapable of exercising their constitutional rights, 13 million more Tea Party-influenced voters apparently were very capable of exercising their rights. Of course, 2012 was a presidential election year which always produces a higher vote. But a 28 percent surge in voting can hardly be described as a “muted” impact.

Moreover, the GOP’s share of the 2012 House vote was six million more than in the previous presidential cycle in 2008. Vueger claims the Tea Party should have produced 5-8 million more votes in 2012, and it looks like that’s exactly what it did, substantially increasing the GOP’s totals over 2008 and 2010. So what’s this business about the IRS?

It’s utter nonsense is what it is, and in the end it has no more intellectual value to it than the ridiculous “skewed polling” meme that became popular on the right during the final weeks of the 2012 campaign. The right didn’t lose in 2012 because the polls were skewed, or because of some vast conspiracy involving the Internal Revenue Service. It lost because President Obama ran a better campaign, because Mitt Romney ran a bad one in many respects, and because the Republican Party found itself out of step with the public as a whole on a wide variety of issues. Conservatives who try to deny reality by coming up with new conspiracy theories do neither themselves nor the movement they claim to care about any good and they just end up looking ridiculous in the end.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    There will always be another theory of Obama’s illegitimacy. They will flow endlessly. Because — and you may have missed this fact — Obama is black.

    Obama is black. Therefore he cannot be legitimate.

    Obama is black. That’s what conservative rage has been about from Day One.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 10

  2. al-Ameda says:

    I guess the question is: Why would a Republican IRS official initiate investigations into the legitimacy or illegitimacy of tea party groups using 501 (c)(4) tax-exempt status?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  3. Hal 10000 says:

    You know, this seems like just another in a long series of 2012 post-mortems that try to explain Obama’s re-election as something nefarious instead of the result of a crappy Republican party and an American public who didn’t hate Obama the way the GOP did.

    I think you’re right about Points 2 and 3. It’s the classic Falacy of the Unbroken Trend. It’s the same kind of “analysis” that said the world’s population would be 20 billion right now. You can’t just take trends like that and extrapolate them out to infinity. I will grant there was a lot of Tea Party sentiment that the movement stimulated in 2010. But that was a latent force of (at most) a few million votes, not an ongoing growth. Once it had been tapped, it had been tapped.

    Also, if you’re going to claim the IRS stopped the Tea Party movement, please show your work. The questioning was mostly of small groups who were doing issue advocacy. The big Tea Party groups that were bankrolled in the millions were still running just fine.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  4. stonetools says:

    I guess this is a desperate attempt to haul the IRS! scandal back onto the front page, since the Republicans can’t really make political points out of SNOWDEN!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @stonetools:

    I guess this is a desperate attempt to haul the IRS! scandal back onto the front page

    The noise machine that makes a living off of pandering to the fears, hatreds and biases of the rabble never misses an opportunity to feed its customers.

    Their motto should be “Why educate when you can prevaricate?”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  6. Heisenberg says:

    If the Tea Party groups would have made a difference in the election, then wouldn’t the IRS be justified in scrutinizing them as political organizations not worthy of tax-exempt status?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 1

  7. Sam Malone says:

    Republicans have zero to offer the nation in terms of policies, or even policy ideas.
    Today Paul Ryan, who voted to slash the SNAP program, says he is focused on poverty. I can only assume, based on his actions, that means keeping the impoverished, impoverished.
    So if you have no ideas…you come up with conspiracy theories to explain your failure as a party.
    This is just another one.
    Yawn.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 4

  8. Mike Petry says:

    The biggest fault in the argument is the idea that keeping the Tea Party’s impact down would somehow hurt the Obama campaign. The Obama campaign thrived on pointing out the Tea Party rallies and saying to the rest of America “SEE! SEE! THESE ARE THE PEOPLE SUPPORTING MITT ROMNEY!”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 1

  9. Dave D says:

    I would also argue that in the run up to 2010 Fox News and the like were sponsoring Tea Party events. Then they were claiming these clearly AstroTurfed organizations were just grassroots and had no party affiliation. Once it became clear these were just re-branded Republicans with more vitriol Fox broke off their wide spread support of all their activities. When you are singing the praises of these orgs every night into the homes of how ever many millions of people, it has to increase the impact of these organizations. Once it stops in 2011 there is a muted impact.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  10. legion says:

    All of these assumption are, I would submit, dubious at best.

    That’s an incredibly charitable way to put it, Doug. Personally, I would be quite comfortable stating that their assumptions are flatly dishonest and very likely pre-paid-for by the same billionaires who bankrolled the Tea Party in the first place.

    The IRS did not, and could not have, prevented the _formation_ of these organizations. The only thing the IRS actions affected was those organizations’ claims for 501(c)(4) tax exemption. And considering many Republican operatives’ public statements (including Karl Rove himself insisting that his Crossroads SuperPAC would explicitly violate the law in its activities), it was entirely reasonable to put those groups under additional scrutiny.

    Ergo, any failure to perform is on the organizations’ side and not the IRS. Period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  11. steve says:
  12. Woody says:

    The audience for the AEI piece:

    1. The courtier press, who now have a “balance factoid” for use when they have to point out the nothingburger actual facts.

    2. The News Corp/talkradio nexus, which now has fresh and “scientific-sounding” material to work with.

    3. Tea-party groups + donors, who now have an awesome excuse for their flimsy performance in 2012. Victimhood ‘n’ vindication!

    It’s worth pointing out that this nonsense has real-life positives – professional and financial – for AEI.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  13. steve says:

    Whoops. Shoulda read the OP first.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Paul L. says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Why would a Republican IRS official initiate investigations into the legitimacy or illegitimacy of tea party groups using 501 (c)(4) tax-exempt status?

    Maybe this mythical Republican will come forward under oath instead of saying it anonymously, we could find out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    Maybe this mythical Republican will come forward under oath instead of saying it anonymously, we could find out.

    This certainly explains why Committee Chair Darrell Issa is reticent to release testimony transcripts, doesn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  16. Y’know, I remember seeing similar stuff from some liberals, especially in Bush Jr.’s second term. “What do you mean, the 2008 election? They’re never gonna let that actually happen.”

    The difference is, that sentiment was limited to commenters on Internet message boards. Whereas the GOP insanity bubble includes the PR firms formerly known as “think tanks” (such as AEI), and roughly every Republican leader and politician.

    Not great, if you like America and want it to do well.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  17. ernieyeball says:

    It lost because President Obama ran a better campaign, because Mitt Romney ran a bad one in many respects, and because the Republican Party found itself out of step with the public as a whole on a wide variety of issues.

    Let’s not forget ORCA!
    Beached Killer Whale-Forbes
    ‘Project ORCA’ Was A Disaster-Business Insider
    Project ORCA Romney’s Fail Whale-Real Clear Politics
    “epic failure” “ORCA Got Harpooned”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  18. steve says:

    Let us split the difference. They are claiming that the Tea Party can add 7 million new member each year indefinitely. When has this ever happened? Never. Do we have examples of political movements that were briefly popular than stagnated or disappeared? Many. Does the party out of power tend to do well in non-Prsidential elections anyway? Yes. Lots of holes in this argument.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  19. David in KC says:

    You all are missing just another piece of the massive cover up and long range planning to get Barack Obama elected president. We knew the first step of putting a birth announcement in the paper, and now we know about putting a stealth operative into the IRS 15 years ago and to make sure he registered as a republican, just so that he could target groups that oppose the president. You all need to keep up…. (Yes, snark)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  20. David D. from Philly says:

    @Heisenberg:

    Great point. If having partisan political activity as a primary focus is illegal for 501(c)(4), then by making this argument aren’t they admitting they were breaking the law?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  21. Scott says:

    The fundamental psychological condition on the right (perhaps on the left in the past) is that of projecting their faults and weaknesses onto others. It is always someone else to blame and someone else’s responsibility for their failure. Until that condition is broken, the republican party cannot heal itself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  22. Amos Jones says:

    ” It’s mostly nonsense. ” Mostly? No, Entirely.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. Matt Bernius says:

    @Heisenberg:

    If the Tea Party groups would have made a difference in the election, then wouldn’t the IRS be justified in scrutinizing them as political organizations not worthy of tax-exempt status?

    This, this, a 1000 times this.

    Additionally, it’s important to note that, at least in the case of 501(c)(4) organizations, there was nothing preventing them from operating and collecting donations while their applications were under review.

    As I’ve written elsewhere on OTB, there’s a scale and reach dimension which doesn’t make sense here:

    Beyond all that, when last I checked, 91 “Tea Party” flagged organizations were targeted. We don’t know the size of all of these organizations. Let’s be generous and say — on average — each contained 500 active members who could vote in a federal election. That would give us a total of 45,500 voters nation wide.

    Granted, it could be argued that every member might reach more people and sway decisions. But it’s still unlikely that these groups could have had such a significant effect — even in close states.

    The fact is that this thinking is akin to “diebold voting machines stole Ohio in 2008.” It’s much easier to blame a conspiracy than face the harsh facts of a bad campaign.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  24. Pinky says:

    @michael reynolds: Was Bush black when the conspiracy theories in 2000 said he didn’t win Florida? What color was he when “Diebold stole Ohio” for Bush in 2004?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 18

  25. Pinky says:

    @Hal 10000:

    The big Tea Party groups that were bankrolled in the millions were still running just fine.

    You see the problem with that statement? The Tea Party was being slammed for being astro-turf at the same time the larger organizations had an advantage that the smaller ones didn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  26. Rob in CT says:

    There will always be another theory of Obama’s illegitimacy. They will flow endlessly. Because — and you may have missed this fact — Obama is a Democrat.

    Obama is a Democrat. Therefore he cannot be legitimate.

    Obama is a Democrat. That’s what conservative rage has been about from Day One.

    FTFY. His blackness doesn’t help, but I think that’s secondary to being a Democrat. Look at how they treated Clinton.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  27. Matt Bernius says:

    @Rob in CT:

    His blackness doesn’t help, but I think that’s secondary to being a Democrat. Look at how they treated Clinton.

    The “blackness” issue can be seen in the lines of (and possibly the intensity of) of the attacks. But to your point, the decision to attack has far more to do with the “D” next to his name than anything else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  28. JohnMcC says:

    @Pinky: The equivalence you are looking for would only exist if Brookings published a study claiming them. Try harder next time.

    And Mr Santelli’s famous rant occurred on 19 Feb 09. That’s pretty much exactly a month after the Inauguration. The cause of his protest, the The Homeowner Affordabilty and Stability Plan, was financed by the earlier Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Which was of course a law passed by the previous administration. It has always seemed to me that the outburst and the reaction to it were more likely a response to what the Right Wing expected from the new President than anything he actually had done. Of course, water under the dam, as my wife says.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  29. Paul L. says:

    @al-Ameda:

    This certainly explains why Committee Chair Darrell Issa is reticent to release testimony transcripts, doesn’t it?

    You do know that Cumming’s “Full IRS Transcripts” redacted the names of the IRS employees.
    Democrats must feel it is a good thing the transcripts were released so all IRS employees are on the same page and can get their story straight.
    Like the police were allowed to review video and work together on the report of the Kelly Thomas beating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 14

  30. legion says:

    @Pinky:

    The Tea Party was being slammed for being astro-turf at the same time the larger organizations had an advantage that the smaller ones didn’t.

    And how exactly is that the IRS’ problem to get in the middle of? They were all explicitly political groups, and undeserving of 501(c)(4) classification – the bigger ones just didn’t need the extra cash. You got a problem with that, talk to the Koch Bros.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  31. legion says:

    @Pinky:

    Was Bush black when the conspiracy theories in 2000 said he didn’t win Florida? What color was he when “Diebold stole Ohio” for Bush in 2004?

    Here’s an important clue for you – Republicans are the only people who still obsessively bring that up. Democrats have moved on and no longer cling desperately to such things. Republicans, OTOH, will continue to believe Obama is a Kenyan Mooslim for generations to come.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  32. Pinky says:

    @legion:

    Republicans, OTOH, will continue to believe Obama is a Kenyan Mooslim for generations to come.

    It’s always easier to admit prior defeats when you just won. Under Reagan, the Republicans could finally admit that Ford was a bad candidate. Under Clinton, the Democrats could finally address the problems of the Carter administration. You use the phrase “move on” – that should be a reminder that the Democrats couldn’t move on from the Clinton impeachment, until they got a president in office. This stuff is cyclical. And here’s an important clue for you – Republicans never talk about President Obama’s religion or nationality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 9

  33. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    Democrats must feel it is a good thing the transcripts were released so all IRS employees are on the same page and can get their story straight.

    Conservatives didn’t seem to have a problem with “getting their story straight” when the Swift Boat Veterans for “Truth” met in a hotel room to coordinate their non-verifiable “stories” about John Kerry.

    Again, you guys seem to be somewhat despondent that a Republican IRS official, and not the president, correctly asked the IRS to check into the 501 (c)(4) status of so-called tea party not-for-profit organizations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  34. legion says:

    @Pinky:

    And here’s an important clue for you – Republicans never talk about President Obama’s religion or nationality.

    ?????

    Uh, I don’t know what planet you get you internets delivered from, but you might want to try a different vendor. Hannity tried to dredge that dead fish up just last week:

    “But he did grow up in Kenya, and he told The New York Times that he went to a school there and one of the most beautiful things on the planet is Islamic prayer at sunset.”

    And nutjob-in-a-pulpit EW Jackson agrees:

    “The question is whether Obama, given his Muslim roots and experience in Farrakhan’s Chicago, shares this antipathy for Israel and Jewish people.”

    Jackson argued that Obama adopted an anti-Israel view in life that was more sympathetic to Muslims because the president used to attend a church led by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom Jackson called a virulent anti-Semite.

    “You don’t merely attend a church, you ‘sit under’ a pastor to be taught and mentored by him,” wrote Jackson.

    If you’re going to lie through your teeth, try to make up something that can’t be disproven in less than 10 seconds…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  35. Matt Bernius says:

    @Paul L.:

    You do know that Cumming’s “Full IRS Transcripts” redacted the names of the IRS employees.

    As did the TIGTA Audit that started all of this — and most other government documents (including Issa’s partial transcripts). I’m not sure where the issue is here.

    Democrats must feel it is a good thing the transcripts were released so all IRS employees are on the same page and can get their story straight.

    Last I checked the committee had already interview most, if not all, of the witnesses at the time of the information dump. Further, if this was a concern, then can you defend Issa’s decision to initially release the partial transcripts to Candy Crowley.

    BTW, it should again be noted that these people have already been interviewed for the TIGTA transcript — and not surprisingly, what’s emerged from the limited transcript releases is exactly the same information that was in the TIGTA releases.

    If Issa or anyone had anything juicy or that deeply contradicted what has already been said, they would have already released it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  36. Matt Bernius says:

    @Pinky:

    And here’s an important clue for you – Republicans never talk about President Obama’s religion or nationality.

    I’ve been digging your contributions so far Pinky. You seem pretty level headed and fair minded… but if you honestly believe this statement as written, then you have been living in an entirely different world since 2007.

    Even beyond the direct attacks from the radical right, there have been the countless pixels spilled and soundbites produced about Obama’s deep otherness by countless professed republican pundits and elected officials. Obama is, in their view, never a true American or a true Christian.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  37. gVOR08 says:

    It’s been obvious from day one that to construct a motive for Obama to target these Tea Party organizations, one had to have a delusional inflated view of their importance. All that’s changed is that AEI wrote down their delusional view.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  38. Jenos Idanian says:

    Nice goal posts you set there, Doug — if you can’t prove it threw the election to Obama, no big deal. I bet Richard Nixon would’ve loved that in Watergate.

    Oh, that’s right, a lot of his apologists did use that line of attack — “third-rate burglary” and all that.

    But let’s just sum up what we know so far.

    The IRS deliberately targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny and delay, based on their ideology. This has been admitted.

    Holly Paz, the IRS official who oversaw the harassment, has claimed ignorance on political matters. She also donated $4,000 to Obama’s campaign efforts. This is public record.

    Sarah Ingram, the IRS official in charge of the office that harassed the Tea Party groups, has been promoted and will oversee the IRS’ office in charge of enforcing Obamacare. This is also public record.

    But if it’s no big deal, I can’t wait for the next Republican administration. Since this is now all fair game, I expect liberal groups seeking tax-exempt status to get positively proctologic exams. And existing liberal groups to get audited within an inch of their life — or more.

    As long as no one can prove that such actions changed the next election (and you can never “prove” a counterfactual), I fully expect the liberals now pooh-poohing this to just bend over and take it as their patriotic duty.

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  39. Kylopod says:

    Was Bush black when the conspiracy theories in 2000 said he didn’t win Florida? What color was he when “Diebold stole Ohio” for Bush in 2004?

    What Bush and the Supreme Court did in 2000 was hardly a “conspiracy”; it was out in the open. The newspapers that did post-election analyses which concluded that Gore might have won a full-state recount were hardly perpetuating a “conspiracy theory.” I do agree, however, that “Diebold stole Ohio” was a conspiracy theory.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  40. legion says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Jenos, do yourself a favor, and never set foot in a court of law – you will get destroyed.

    The IRS deliberately targeted Tea Party groups for extra scrutiny and delay, based on their ideology. This has been admitted.

    First, you describe “the IRS” as a monolithic entity when your own later arguments depend on laying blame on the decisions of individual employees – not a good thematic way to start off. Secondly, “based on their ideology” won’t fly. The fact that Karl Rove and numerous others had made loud public noises about doing explicitly political things with these groups – in violation of the forms they had to file to even apply to the IRS – made additional scrutiny not merely legitimate, but required.

    Holly Paz, the IRS official who oversaw the harassment, has claimed ignorance on political matters. She also donated $4,000 to Obama’s campaign efforts. This is public record.

    As above, the term “harassment” is garbage. Also – so what? Her donation broke no rules. If you have a problem with it, then rail about the legality of federal employees donating to _any_ political campaigns. But just complaining that she gave to one party’s candidate? Pretty much a tip-off that you’re a hack on a smear campaign.

    Sarah Ingram, the IRS official in charge of the office that harassed the Tea Party groups, has been promoted and will oversee the IRS’ office in charge of enforcing Obamacare. This is also public record.

    Ditto previous point. And the ham-fisted implication that she was promoted because of these specific actions without even the flimsiest justification is something that wouldn’t get by in a middle-school forensics club.

    As long as no one can prove that such actions changed the next election (and you can never “prove” a counterfactual), I fully expect the liberals now pooh-poohing this to just bend over and take it as their patriotic duty.

    Th fact that has been belabored repeatedly – but which you refuse to allow into your personal echo chamber – is that _none_ of the IRS’ actions stopped these groups from acting in the past election. They _only_ delayed or prevented them from getting exempt benefits from the taxpayers they claim to care so bloody much for. I can however prove that you have no idea what you’re talking about. QED.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  41. Paul L. says:

    @al-Ameda:
    I’ll bet you still believe that Fortune article saying ATF Whistleblower blower John Dodson was responsible for the gunwalking in Fast and Furious.
    @Matt Bernius:
    He implied the full transcript will identify the mythical IRS Republican who should go to jail for ordering the “teabagger” targeting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  42. rudderpedals says:

    Bloomberg is now inconveniently reporting that orgs with “Progressive”, “Israel” and “Occupy” in the name were stuck in the delay queue along with the teabaggers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  43. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    I’ll bet you still believe that Fortune article saying ATF Whistleblower blower John Dodson was responsible for the gunwalking in Fast and Furious.

    Okay, I’ll bite: Should I believe Fortune Magazine?
    As long as you’re on the subject of conspiracies, why did a Republican IRS official correctly look into the 501(c)(4) status of so-called tea party affiliated non-profit organizations?,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  44. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos

    I hear Mitt Romney once saved a drowning man. Maybe he can do something for you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  45. Caj says:

    What a load of crap! Romney lost because he was an empty suit who thought corporations were people my friends. Mr Millionaire who keeps his money in overseas accounts to avoid paying was no patriot to start with! The IRS nonsense had nothing to do with it. Only a fool would believe that…oops, guess we’ll be seeing some on here soon!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  46. Paul L. says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Should I believe Fortune Magazine?

    No, considering the DOJ IG Fast and Furious report debunked the article.

    a Republican IRS official

    You can claim to be Ming the Merciless. But until I see your fleet of death ray armed spaceships, I am not going to believe you.
    @rudderpedals:
    Then you and other progressives should have no problem showing that 75 or more “Progressive”” and “Occupy” 501c4s that were unfairly targeted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  47. Matt Bernius says:

    @Paul L.:

    He implied the full transcript will identify the mythical IRS Republican who should go to jail for ordering the “teabagger” targeting.

    Can you provide a source on the “go to jail” quote? From what I saw, all Cummings suggested was that it was a Republican leaning person at the IRS who was in part responsible for adding “tea party” to the BOLO list.

    As far as the transcript, I think what he was saying was that the person in question — whose transcript his office released — was self identified as Republican leaning.

    Frankly, the only people who have been talking about sending folks from the IRS to jail are reactionaries who seem to not have actually read the TIGTA report or the transcripts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  48. mantis says:

    Remind me, what was denied these groups as a result of this terrible scrutiny? Oh, absolutely nothing? Well, that is quite the devious plan. Sabotage the enemy by doing nothing that impedes his progress. First time in history that worked, I guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  49. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Nice goal posts you set there, Doug — if you can’t prove it threw the election to Obama, no big deal. I bet Richard Nixon would’ve loved that in Watergate.

    Nice rhetorical (and weaselie) trick to begin with — the key difference is that Nixon personally oversaw Watergate and the subsequent cover-up. There is not a shred of actual evidence to suggest that the Obama Whitehouse was involved in the IRS’s inappropriate targeting. So already you’re playing your usual bait and switch game.

    Beyond that, point out where Doug said that “this doesn’t matter.”

    Again, this is an important issue — though not for the reasons that you think.

    A. We know that more than just conservative groups were caught up in this.
    B. We also know that once flagged for additional review, the applications were treated largely in the same fashion regardless of political persuasion.
    C. What isn’t being mentioned is that the BOLO list was — based on data in the TIGTA report — MORE effective at identifying potential political activity issues (81% of the time vs the typical rate of 69% – source: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-bolo-list-and-the-question-of-optics-vs-effectiveness/)

    What all this points to is how screwed up the entire 501(c)(4) format is. And in a just world, Mr Issa and the American Enterprise Institute would be putting all of this effort into getting rid of the form all together. But that would mean eliminating a complete cluster-eff of an organizational type that has very little oversight and the HUGE benefit of anonymous donations.

    However, it seems like most people are getting their knickers twisted because they don’t think they were allowed to “cheat” as much as they think the other side was.

    And I’m quoting “cheat” above, because there isn’t a significant amount of evidence suggesting that anyone cheated in the first place. At least not how you’re suggesting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  50. al-Ameda says:

    @Paul L.:

    You can claim to be Ming the Merciless. But until I see your fleet of death ray armed spaceships, I am not going to believe you.

    Or, he can claim to be a Republican and I believe him, even though you guys disavow any Republican who strays from the talking points as a RINO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  51. Jenos Idanian says:

    @legion: h fact that has been belabored repeatedly – but which you refuse to allow into your personal echo chamber – is that _none_ of the IRS’ actions stopped these groups from acting in the past election. They _only_ delayed or prevented them from getting exempt benefits from the taxpayers they claim to care so bloody much for. I can however prove that you have no idea what you’re talking about. QED.

    Yeah, you’re right. How dare those stupid Teabaggers think that they are entitled to the same status and rights as liberal groups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  52. legion says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Are you functionally illiterate? Does someone else read these things to you, but only the ones they think will make you giggle & form cute little spit bubbles at the corners of your mouth? I know you only get your news delivered by Fox straight to your neural implant, but you might have noticed the great big story going on everywhere else in the world about how the IRS was actually targeting _numerous_ groups all across the political spectrum – not just Tea Party groups.

    This isn’t a scandal. It never was a scandal – the IRS was actually doing it’s job – that’s the one thing you simply cannot ever accept. Groups that were trying to violate the law were jacked up by the process – that’s what’s supposed to happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  53. fred says:

    NONSENSE, nonsence and more nonsence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  54. Pinky says:

    @mantis:

    Remind me, what was denied these groups as a result of this terrible scrutiny?

    Well, let’s be honest. There are a lot of organizations calling themselves Tea Party. If you were thinking about contributing to one, or getting involved with it, wouldn’t its level of organization (including its tax status) have an influence on you? If it was spending more time filling out responses to the IRS than anything else, or if it were sending its donor list to the IRS, wouldn’t that concern you? If you were thinking about starting your own group, but kept hearing that it would never come together in time to influence the election, wouldn’t that dishearten you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  55. Moosebreath says:

    @Paul L.:

    “Then you and other progressives should have no problem showing that 75 or more “Progressive”” and “Occupy” 501c4s that were unfairly targeted.”

    You’re right. I have no problem with them being targeted. And I have seen no evidence to date that it was unfair.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  56. Matt Bernius says:

    @Paul L.:

    Then you and other progressives should have no problem showing that 75 or more “Progressive”” and “Occupy” 501c4s that were unfairly targeted.

    Look, I’ll write this slowly and include links:

    1. We *know* that liberal and neutral groups were still getting passed into specialist review during this period. At least 1/3rd of the groups that were flagged for specialist review and eventually passed were *not* conservative. See:
    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/13-of-flagged-501c34-applications-were-from-non-conservative-groups/

    2. We do not know the make up of groups who have yet to receive their approval or rejections because that is not a matter of public record. So outside of Congressional Committees, no one has that information.

    3. We know that once groups were flagged for specialist review, they were treated in more or less the same fashion. See the TIGTA report for more of that.

    4. In terms of supposed “unfair” flagging, the TIGTA audit establishes that 81% of the Tea Party and other BOLO terms applications were CORRECTLY flagged for specialist review. That was actually a higher success rate than when you looked at the standard primary review as a whole (which had a 69% success rate). Not, btw, this doesn’t mean that lots of liberal groups were being ignored. The fact is that the TIGTA audit found that the IRS’s failure rate for missing potential political activity was 14%.
    see: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-bolo-list-and-the-question-of-optics-vs-effectiveness/

    BTW, the word you are looking for isn’t “unfairly” — that topic never came up in the TIGTA report. The word used in the report was “inappropriately” and the reason that they found it to be inappropriate was due to the fact that it could be perceived as appearing “biased” (in much the same way that profiling can be perceived as being biased).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0