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When Presidents Used The IRS For Political Purposes

The Christian Science Monitor details some instances from history when Presidents, or those under them, have used the IRS to target political opponents.

I was aware, of course, of Nixon’s use of the IRS during Watergate. I was surprised by some of the other names on the list.

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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. JKB says:

    Interesting. But those cases are mostly one side of the elite harassing the other side leaving regular Americans out of the fray.

    The current scandal is the administration using the IRS to target regular Americans all across the country based on their political beliefs, support for Israel, and, oddly, wanting to educate people about the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    So as I said, this IRS going after people is the “closing the local post office” of scandals. People from just about every congressional district were adversely impacted.

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  2. Matt Bernius says:

    @JKB:

    The current scandal is the administration using the IRS to target regular Americans all across the country based on their political beliefs, support for Israel, and, oddly, wanting to educate people about the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    Ahh… so again, its that this HAD to be the administration targeting regular Americans. And just when I thought I had you starting to agree with the possibility that this might just be your hated bureaucracy at work.

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  3. gVOR08 says:

    My understanding from various stories is that because of the cited abuses, especially Nixon, laws were changed, making it illegal for Obama to have provided the day to day detailed oversight of the IRS the wingers think Obama should have provided when they make their argument that he’s disengaged and incompetent. As opposed to the day to day detailed control they think he exercised when they make their argument that he’s a dictator with his tentacles in everything.

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  4. Jeremy R says:

    @JKB:

    Interesting. But those cases are mostly one side of the elite harassing the other side leaving regular Americans out of the fray.

    That’s because if there’s actually a real conspiracy where you’re using the IRS to try and have an electoral impact you’d obviously target those “elite” players, not the nobodies. In modern terms you’d harass Americans for Prosperity, or Crossroads or the NRA, since they have a real impact on elections. No conspiracy would have ever targeted a bunch of podunk local Tea Party groups, as electorally they’re nigh powerless & meaningless; they live for feeling persecuted, particularly by the IRS, so you’re actually doing them a massive favor when it comes to recruitment, fundraising, drive, media interest, etc; and of course, they all get to keep their tax exempt status during the review process, and in the end none are even denied it, so these supposed conspirators clearly weren’t trying very hard.

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  5. gVOR08 says:

    @Jeremy R: Waxing philosophical, lack of a sense of proportion seems to me to be common, even necessary, in conservatives. Or more accurately, my observation has been that they have a sense of proportion based on the morality of the act, not the impact. And based on a moral scale that is incomprehensible to people in the reality based community. Hence Benghazi is a bigger scandal than Tea Pot Dome and getting a BJ is worse than starting a war on false premises. And harassing good loyal Tea Partiers would be a priority to Obama because he’s evil and harassing them is the most evil thing they can think of.

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  6. JKB says:

    @Matt Bernius: this might just be your hated bureaucracy at work.

    The bureaucracy dominated by Progressives? Have you worked in the bureaucracy? I have. DC is filthy with Leftists. It isn’t so bad out in the field, but they are there. Notice I used a small “a” on administration.

    @Jeremy R: a bunch of podunk local Tea Party groups, as electorally they’re nigh powerless & meaningless;

    The Tea Party whose electoral success was much lamented during in 2011 and 2012? Whose presence was blamed for the debt ceiling crisis, the “tax cut” extension, etc. Yes, they are nigh powerless and meaningless.

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