Obama, Pelosi condemn IRS bias scandal

Jeez, I take one day off (to go to an awesome concert, at least) and THAT’S when the IRS gets busted for targeting conservative groups – prime blog fodder if I ever saw it. Sorry for the delay, readers.

In case you missed it, the IRS apologized Friday for targeting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, admitting it had improperly singled out conservative applications for tax-exempt status for special scrutiny. The story only got uglier over the weekend, with the Associated Press and Reuters reporting Saturday that senior IRS officials knew of this as early as 2011.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Friday:

“The admission by the Obama administration that the Internal Revenue Service targeted political opponents echoes some of the most shameful abuses of government power in 20th-century American history. Today, we are left with serious questions: who is ultimately responsible for this travesty? What actions will the Obama administration take to hold them accountable? And have other federal agencies used government powers to attack Americans for partisan reasons? House Republicans have made oversight of federal agencies a top priority on behalf of the American people, and I applaud the work that members such as Charles Boustany, Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan have done to bring this issue to light. I also strongly support Sen. McConnell’s call for a transparent, government-wide review to ensure similar practices are not happening elsewhere in the federal bureaucracy.”

“If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous, and there’s no place for it,” President Obama told reporters today, according to the Washington Post. “And they have to be held fully accountable.”

And here’s what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said today:

“While we look forward to reviewing the Inspector General’s report this week, it is clear that the actions taken by some at the IRS must be condemned. Those who engaged in this behavior were wrong and must be held accountable for their actions. Regardless of political affiliation or bias, there is no place for this type of activity by the IRS or its employees.

“There needs to be more clarity in the law regarding the activities of tax exempt organizations along with greater disclosure and transparency. We must overturn Citizens United, which has exacerbated the challenges posed by some of these so-called ‘social welfare’ organizations. And we must take appropriate action, without any delay or hesitation, to ensure that the IRS remains an impartial agency for America’s taxpayers and our nation’s families and businesses.”

Have at it, ladies and gentlemen.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • JohnW

    Marco Rubio calls for immediate resignation of IRS Commissioner. Just a few problems you should be aware of Marco.

    First, there is no IRS Commissioner, only an Acting Commissioner. That’s probably because Senate Republicans silent filibuster nearly all of Obama’s nominations.

    Second, the IRS actions in question began and ended before the current Acting Commissioner was appointed.

    Third, the IRS Commissioner during the time all this took place was Douglas Shulman, appointed by Bush in 2008 for a term that ended at the end of 2012.

  • Elwood

    Is it wrong to hope that Nancy Pelosi goes to heaven soon?

  • For Liberty

    The targeting of patriots and Tea Party groups began as early as March 2010, and the head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division was specifically told about this targeting in June 2011.

    The IRS lied to Congress five separate times between November 18th, 2011 and June 15th, 2012 about what was going on. If the IRS had admitted the truth to Congress, it would have been extremely damaging to the Obama campaign. With the outcome of the election still up in the air, IRS officials did not want to play a role in altering any potential outcome of the election that could ultimately damage Obama, so they blatantly lied to Congress.

    Did anyone in the Obama administration know about any of this? Without a doubt, members of the Obama administration and key players in the Obama campaign were aware of what Congress was asking the IRS. Did any of them ever look into these allegations to see if they were true? Once they looked into these things, did they report back to Obama?

  • JohnW

    They need to crack down on all the phony “social welfare” organizations that are, in reality, political campaign organizations using the 501(c)(4) designation, so that they can circumvent political contribution disclosure laws. Most of them are affiliated with Republicans, but Democrats will undoubtedly catch up. Wrong of IRS to use “Tea Party” reference as the profile trigger for extra scrutiny. But does anybody believe that a Tea Party-affiliated group is primarily engaged in “social welfare,” which is what is required for 501(c)(4) exempt status?

  • JohnW


    I don’t know about the “five separate times” part, but I believe the official who denied this activity in front of Congress was the IRS Commissioner, Douglas Shulman. Whether or not he knew about the activities of the IRS division responsible for these reviews and knowingly lied about it is worth investigating. However, Shulman was appointed by Bush in 2008 and knew he would be leaving when his term as IRS Commissioner expired at the end of 2012. Why would he initiate or condone extra scrutiny of conservative 501(c)(4)’s or cover for Obama?

  • JAFO

    John, your arguments are generally too articulate and well-documented for you to have lazily allowed predictable knee-jerk Dem talking points like “it’s the Rebuplicans’ and Bush’s fault” to slip into your comments. Factual? Yes. Lame? Yes. Best to stick with “a pox on both their houses” when correctly suggesting that such illegal IRS activity should never be permitted, no matter who occupies the White House.

  • RR senile columnist

    Politically motivated IRS harassment dates from FDR ‘s era. The New Dealers went after Andrew Mellon, Moe Annenberg and even saintly old A. P. Gianninni (sp?) of Bank of America fame). Sent from my favourite tavern.

  • JohnW


    JAFO, my point was not “it’s Bush’s fault.” There are plenty of times when that accusation is accurate and appropriate. This is not one of those times. I’m sure you and I agree that the IRS has to be above even the appearance of political intrigue. Any administration that messes with that is playing with fire. They have little to gain and everything to lose.

    My point is that, before people go off half-cocked like this was some sort of Obama conspiracy to go after his political enemies, they should at least ask why an IRS commissioner who was appointed by Obama’s GOP predecessor would have anything to do with that. Until I hear credible information to the contrary, my conclusion is that the targeting of Tea Party groups for the colonoscopy treatment was done by the IRS division responsible for those reviews without the knowledge of the IRS Commissioner’s office, let alone anybody in the White House.

    It was inappropriate to say the least. Those involved should be fired yesterday. But if the groups that were targeted are eligible 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organizations, then I’m an astronaut.

    By the way, as reported by Politico, the IRS gave the NAACP a 2-year-long colonoscopy 2004-2006 based on NAACP criticism of Bush at the NAACP’s 2004 annual convention. Needless to say, Democrats went after the Bush administration the way Republicans are going after Obama now. Republicans blamed it on the same Cincinnati office that the Obama administration now blames. However, the IRS Commissioner at the time was a Bush appointee, not somebody appointed by a predecessor of the opposite party. Also, the GOP controlled both the House and Senate. So there was no orgy of Congressional investigations.

  • JohnW

    @7 RR Senile Columnist

    You’re right about that. My favorite was when JFK went after the major steel companies when the Big Three colluded on big price hikes in 1962 and threatened to put the country into an inflationary cycle. Kennedy got the IRS, FBI and every cabinet department involved. In the case of the IRS, they threatened audits of the CEO’s, not just the companies. It worked. They backed off the price hikes. Guess the CEO’s had reason to be concerned about audits.

    It was wrong, but in a good way.

  • Elwood

    “But does anybody believe that a Tea Party-affiliated group is primarily engaged in “social welfare,”

    Depends on how you define social welfare, John.

    A very flexible term. An uninterested IRS would err on the side of permissiveness.

  • Elwood

    Clinton played no role in Benghazi.

    Holder played no role in subpoenaing the AP phone logs.

    Obama played no role in the IRS corruption.

    What we need in Washington are some role players.

  • JohnW


    Funny you should mention. See the link at the end of this post.

    McClatchy today reports that, in the month before the attack, Ambassador Stevens twice turned down offers of security assistance from the senior military official in the region, Army General Carter Ham, head of the U.S. Africa Command. He offered an 18-person Special Forces team. The offer was made in response to security concerns that had been communicated from Benghazi to the State Department. This is a bit confusing, given that Benghazi has sent a cable to D.C. saying that Benghazi could not be defended against an attack and promised to send another cable requesting assistance. But they never sent that cable.

    Gregory Hicks, the #2 guy in the Libya embassy who was the GOP’s star witness at the hearings the other day, claims no knowledge of this. Maybe he wasn’t as much in the loop on things as he professed. I notice that he has as his attorney, Victoria Toensing, who, among other career highlights, defended the outing of Valerie Plame on the basis that she wasn’t a “real” covert operative.

    Benghazi was more CIA than State, and I suspect there is much about the CIA side of this that has not been told.


  • Elwood

    “Why Stevens, who died of smoke inhalation in the first of two attacks that took place late Sept. 11 and early Sept. 12, 2012, would turn down the offers remains unclear.”

    Ain’t that the truth!

    Always safest to blame a screw up on the dead man. The dead tell no tales.

  • JohnW


    Who’s blaming the dead man? McClatchy is just reporting information. If it is accurate, would that not be a newsworthy thing to know and report? Should they not report it?

    One speculative thought was that Stevens turned down the offer of extra security because the State Department told him to do that. Seems far fetched that State would do that or that Stevens would go along with such an order. If State did that, that would be a true smoking gun, but I find it extremely hard to believe.

    If the McClatchy report is accurate, something doesn’t compute.

  • RR senile columnist

    I suspect a vast left- wing conspiracy is behind all these scandals.

  • JohnW

    A brutal truth is that, if four people had died in Benghazi but not the ambassador, nobody would give a damn. It would have been a two-day story.

    The ARB (Pickering/McMullen) report established major State Department and intelligence failings. Those are legit issues. If the GOP wants to rough up Hillary before 2016, they should stick to that. The business about talking points and cover-up (“people died; Obama lied”) is bull.