The Internal Revenue Service targeted progressive groups applying for tax-exempt status in addition to conservative ones, according to IRS documents released by congressional Democrats on Monday.
The documents and an internal IRS report being sent to congressional committees reveal that the tax agency used terms that included "progressive" and "occupy" to flag progressive organizations for extra scrutiny before the 2012 elections.
The revelations greatly complicate the political scandal that has engulfed the IRS over the past few weeks. An inspector general report in mid-May revealed the tax agency had screened conservative groups with words like "tea party" in their name when considering applications for tax-exempt status. Lawmakers from both parties quickly denounced the creation of such "Be On The Lookout," or BOLO, lists. Republicans in particular argued the finding proved the IRS was trying to tip the scales of the election during the heat of the campaign.
Now it appears the agency's BOLOs were applied to organizations across the ideological spectrum. The IRS also screened groups advocating on behalf of Israeli settlements who were applying for non-profit 501c4 status -- a criterion that may on its own prove politically toxic...
Democratic staffers on the House Ways and Means Committee released a copy of a BOLO list Monday that showed the word "progressive" was one of those a filters.
"Common thread is the word 'progressive,'" the document reads. "Activities appear to lean toward a new political party. Activities are partisan and appear as anti-Republican. You see references to "blue" as being 'progressive.'"
The document released by House Democrats shows that the IRS was grappling with a wave of difficult-to-define organizations looking for tax-exempt status. The BOLO document notes that 176 applicants for 501c4 status had used the same address in their applications.
Under a section titled "Watch List," the agency put "health care legislation" as an "issue name," advising that new applicants were subject to secondary screening. The IRS also listed "medical marijuana" as an issue name to watch, as well as "occupied territory advocacy."...
Danny Werfel, the principal deputy commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service,acknowledged Monday that other BOLOs besides tea party had existed and were operational until recently. He informed reporters that he had since ended the BOLO practice.
The main question for many Democrats, however, is why no one at the IRS revealed that progressive groups were screened in addition to tea party organizations.
I expect to see those politicians who have gone public with their outrage express further anger on this subject. Unfortunately...
UPDATE: 8:05 p.m. --House Oversight Committee Chairaman Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), who has selectively leaked portions of his own incomplete investigation into IRS wrongdoing, called the internal IRS report issued by Werfel “premature.” Issa added that the review "fails to meaningfully answer the largest outstanding questions about inappropriate inquiries and indefensible delays.”As for the evidence that the IRS put progressive groups on its BOLO, Issa’s office continued to argue on Monday that the scrutiny applied to Tea Party organizations was greater because their cases were handled with officials in D.C.