Senate Democrats pushed for IRS Tea Party snooping before criticizing it
posted at 5/15/2013 3:34 PM EDT
From Max Baucus to Chuck Schumer to Jeanne Shaheen, key Senate Democrats publicly pressured the IRS to target groups that held differing political views and who, in their view, had the temerity to engage in the political process. The IRS listened to them and acted. And other Democrat senators like Kay Hagan and Mark Pryor said and did nothing about it.
Perhaps their strategy of distraction may work in the short-term with a Washington press corps pulled in a multitude of different directions, but Senate Democrats have a serious political problem that will haunt them as they head into an already-difficult election cycle. When these Senate Finance Committee hearings come to pass it would be a remarkable act of bravery and candor for one of these IRS bureaucrats to appropriately ask Max Baucus and others why they're not sitting at the witness tables next to them, instead of continuing in their charade of faux outrage.
Because Senate Democrats today have just as much explaining to do as the IRS.
As the New York Times reported back in 2010 :
With growing scrutiny of the role of tax-exempt groups in political campaigns, Congressional Republicans are pushing back against Democrats by warning about the possible misuse of the Internal Revenue Service to audit conservative groups….And the Republicans are also upset about an I.R.S. review requested by Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who leads the Finance Committee, into the political activities of tax-exempt groups. Such a review threatens to "chill the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights," wrote two Republican senators, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Jon Kyl of Arizona, in a letter sent to the I.R.S. on Wednesday. ... Democrats dismissed the Republicans' complaints as groundless.
You read that correctly.
The same Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee who this week is calling for hearings into IRS activities, specifically called on the IRS to engage in that very conduct back in 2010. And he wasn't the only one. Just last year, a group of seven Senate Democrats sent another letter to the IRS urging them to similarly investigate these outside political organizations.