In recent weeks Democrats have been trying their best to throw water on the IRS scandal by claiming that the IRS was targeting left-wing groups as well. That’s still not good, they argue, but it suggests that the Obama administration wasn’t engaging in Nixonian targeting of political enemies.
Except, Treasury Department inspector general J. Russell George (upon whom Democrats have heaped much ire) is firing back noting that the left wing groups were not targeted like tea party groups were:
George will also take a shot at the IRS, charging that the agency failed to disclose BOLO lists that included the terms “Progressive” and “Occupy.” “New documents from July 2010 listing the term quote ‘Progressive’ unquote but noting that ‘Progressive are not considered Tea Parties’ were provided to TIGTA last week, on July 9th, 2013,” George will tell the committee. “They were not provided during our audit…I am disturbed that these documents were not provided to our auditors at the outset, and we are currently reviewing this issue.”
George will nonetheless defend the integrity of his report, which Cummings and House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin have impugned. He will explain that his report focused on the terms “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” and “9/12″ because “these were the terms [the IRS] used to select the potential political cases.” The other BOLO entires — including “Progressive” and “Occupy” — “were not used to select cases” for the type of scrutiny tea-party groups received from IRS higher-ups.
In other words, the IRS did use terms like “progressive” and “occupy” to find left-wing groups, but the BOLO mentioning those terms also made a distinction between them and “tea party groups.” What’s more, the left-wing terms were not used to select groups for targeting the way right-wing groups were:
Though the term “Progressive” is found on several BOLO lists, IRS screeners were instructed to treat groups whose applications fell in that category differently from those of tea parties. Whereas tea-party applications were automatically elevated for extra scrutiny and coordination with officials in Washington, D.C., screeners were merely told a 501(c)(3) designation “may not be appropriate” for progressive groups.
Democrats want to confuse the issue, but it seems the IG responsible for uncovering the targeting in the first place is sticking to his guns.