The IRS shouldn’t investigate the Tea Party. Homeland Security should.

Of course it’s unacceptable for the IRS to place extra scrutiny on the tax-exempt status of conservative groups like the Tea Party.

We want the IRS to be impartial, and they should never be targeting anyone based on their politics.

But maybe the IRS had good reason to worry about the legitimacy of this new not-really-a-party party called the Tea Party.

Tea Party compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler in an email fundraiser.

Tea Party compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler in an email fundraiser.

Everyone, once in a while, harbors bad thoughts in the corner of their mind that are undoubtedly wrong/absurd/unserious, and would never be brought up in polite conversation.  We have our beliefs, but then we have these uncomfortable inklings that keep nagging at us, even though we “know” they must be wrong.

Louis C.K. calls the dichotomy between the two competing thoughts: “Of course, but maybe.”


When I heard that the IRS had been singling out conservative Tea Party groups that had applied for 501 (c)(4) status, placing them under increased scrutiny based on their ideological affiliation, I couldn’t help but think: Of course that’s wrong, but maybe the Tea Party does come off a bit shady.

Maybe these are the same people who think that “it’s really American to avoid taxes”. So it’s understandable why the tax authority might have some concerns, if they took the organizations at their word.

And maybe these are the same groups that use the term “non-partisan” as a facade for advancing Republican candidates under the guise of neutral patriotism.  Groups that operated under the unified leadership of Newt Gingrich’s deputy Dick Armey, which would make the Tea Party’s very existence a form of political “subterfuge,” which might understandably make federal regulators at least suspicious.

And thus, maybe groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their name really are more likely to be stretching, or abusing, their 501 (c)(4) status, and since they’re coordinated through a central GOP authority any abuse could potentially be systemic.

And maybe when these groups apply to not only be exempt from paying taxes, but exempt from having to disclose their donors as well, they should be placed under increased scrutiny since the very reason for their existence is to undermine government and the rule of law.

And maybe, when you come to think of it, a lot of these Tea Party types are a few stars short of the original 13, if you know what I mean.  Maybe a lot of these guys are racists.  And they act in a way, that under a Republican President, might just win you a one-way ticket to Gitmo if your face were brown.

Tea Party compares Obama to Hitler

Here’s a bit more from Tea Party supporters, giving us their wisdom about President Obama:

“His aspiration is to socialize the U.S., though he’d probably settle for remaking it in Europe’s image in the short term,” wrote stratman1. “That’s why he doesn’t resonate with many of us.”

“Obama is a Marxist and he wants the US to be a Marxist state just like his real home Kenya is becoming. He is a Manchurian candidate,” scribbled stephenlubinsbcglobalnet. “No-one knows where he was born, who his parents are, or anything else about him. But we do know he is a Marxist who is destroying this coutnry.[sic]”

“NoBama hates this country and everything for which it stands,” noted PhanMan69. “He is ashamed and apologizes for the leadership that the US has provided the world. He does not believe that America is exceptional and is doing his best to grind what’s left into the ground…No President of mine takes the oath of office and then shreds the Constitution that he swore to defend.”

So, I think the Republicans are right.

Of course it was wrong for the IRS to investigate the Tea Party.

But maybe it should have been Homeland Security instead.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • launchme52

    Its scary the Tea Party is a direct threat to the status quo in DC and OMIGOD what about the system that is strangling America it could be torn apart. Follow the money and you see why they want any new political movement squashed. Change is coming and these meager attempts to control wont work for long.

  • JozefAL

    Jon, you left out a very important statistic: The doubling–from 2010 to 2012–of applications for 501(c)4 exemptions made by all these teabagging front groups. I read the number of applications in 2010 was around 1700 and by 2012, the number was up to 3500. Now, just presuming these two figures are exclusive, you’re looking at more than 5000 groups applying for 501(c)(4) status for 50 states (and this doesn’t include any numbers from 2011). That’s an average of 100+ per state.

    I am concerned about any “profiling” (although, for some reason, right-wing groups, including the Teabaggers, don’t seem to care about that when it comes to airline passengers or traffic stops) but I’m more concerned at this insane explosion in the sheer number of applications. What’s the IRS to do to ensure these applicants aren’t filing for fraudulent purposes? Just take the groups’ “word” that they won’t do anything that violates the exemption requirements? We’ve seen how many of these ‘baggers can’t be trusted on anything so it’s hard to believe they’d be completely on the up-and-up with filing for 501(c)(4) status.

    And I will GUARANTEE you that these same offended right-wingers wouldn’t be raising a fuss if the IRS were “targeting” groups advocating liberal/progressive measures, especially those that crossed over into the political realm.

  • AM

    So a guy, blogging from Prog central, claims that maybe the .gov should have done more to get to the bottom of people he doesn’t like ideologically. Remember kiddo, when the next administration has an “R” instead of a “D” anything you did to them becomes fair game to be done to you. Want to strip tax exempt status from anything with a link to The Joyce Foundation or George Soros? Because really, that is what you are saying should happen.

  • lessthantolerant

    Bye, Bye, liberal bye, bye!

  • jackieaxe

    Your a whack job Jon Green.

  • samizdat

    *eye roll* I’m out.

  • TruthFinder

    If anything, the IRS should be even MORE aggressive at going after these money-laundering groups (all of them) that hide in the shadows. The public has a right to know who is buying our government and all secret money used to influence our democracy is an abomination.

  • lessthantolerant

    True we need to be more parasitic and less productive like Europe. Silly poor little libbie just wants more freebees which we all know you are entitled to.

  • samizdat

    Yer funny, mister. Doesn’t bother me a bit. As for Europe, well, it’s no paradise, but I’ll take their smaller “defense” budgets, the universal/single payer/national health care systems, the transit systems, their more efficient development patterns, PassivHaus, more stringent regs against consumer fraud and advertising sophistry, (mandatory) four weeks vacation, paid maternity leave (up to a year, in some really enlightened countries), etc. Frankly, any nation which puts more value into the veneration of money than it does the well-being of its citizens is not to be respected. Shame, really, I love my country. Too bad some of the people here are such sociopaths.

  • Jim Olson

    Alas, I do.

  • lessthantolerant

    Poor libbie, does it bother you that someone thinks you and your ilk are wastes of skin? if you want to live the European dream why are you in our poor backwater country.
    Want to venture a real answer?

  • samizdat

    Interesting that lessthantolerant shoulders the ‘Holger Danske’ mantle. In Danish mythology, he is seen as a guardian of Denmark, and more generally, a ‘Guardian of the West’.

    Poor guy. So much pressure to live up to the fantasy involving one of the mythological characters of Western Europe. I guess that means we are all to be feared as destroyers of the West, what with our Socialisms and Marxisms, and our Eastern ideals.

    Geez…Is there one conservative in this podunk little backwater country who’s not drinking the Kool-Aid? Just one, that’s all I ask.

  • lessthantolerant

    Unicorn fits you well as a moniker.

  • samizdat

    Whoo-boy…some interesting thoughts wrapped up into those selected quotes from TPers. Not a lot of rational thought there. They seem to want Drone-bama impeached…or something…but they are completely delusional and mistaken as to the reasons. Not to mention, I’m having a difficult time imagining any one of them having the knowledge to judge whether Kenya is turning into a “Marxist” state.
    The ‘America is exceptional’ canard is always good for a robust guffaw, though.

  • lessthantolerant

    Corporatist? This boy has no understanding of economics and simply wants to redistribute wealth so that his parasitic following will have enough to think thay are taken care of.

  • Jon Green


  • honesty 101

    We all know that this regime has it’s hands on the throats off all the governments offices and that includes the IRS,Health care, FBI,CIA all of them !! Obama sent his attack dogs after these conservatives and now he is lying about it !

  • So all of the sudden “Tea Party” means conservative?

    I thought they went out of their way to say “taxed enough already” and “patriot” means
    everyone (even including colored folks I think), but we now see all that was bullshit.

    Even they don’t bother to pretend anymore that they’re not just the political arm
    of the Repubs (ala Dick Armey). Which, interestingly, 501(c)4s are not
    properly/legally supposed to set up as – so should and must be investigated… by the IRS.

  • That any single American honestly thinks that a Center/Right Corporatist like Barack Obama is a ‘socialist’ shows how badly Mass Democracy has failed.

  • The Cincinnati office sent confidential documents to Propublica. This is a firing offense at the IRS, which is supposed to be apolitical. The latest news is that IRS officials in DC knew and at least three offices were involved. This is a big deal.

  • Indigo

    I’d rather see the IRS go after the churches, they’re politically involved yet claim tax exempt status. As for the T-P people, the problem being that many of them are already working in Homeland Security, they should be investigated by HS but they are HS. Der Heimatsicherheitsgeselshcaft! Unglaublich!

  • Indigo

    Let’s not count the years, they go way back to the newsletter. Remember when?

  • Well it is quite obvious you know nothing of the Tea Party movement of
    its goals.

    Well, OK, so maybe we can learn something of its real goals. Let’s hear you out…

    Europe is a dying socialist
    experiment slowing being absorbed by Muslims–

    Oh, so it’s all about racism and religious bigotry! Thanks, “lessthantolerant”, you’ve been most helpful in clarifying my view of the “Tea Party”.

    (Does the “Tea Party” even really exist? I figured it was just some loosely applied label applied to various wingnut politicians.)

  • lessthantolerant

    Well it is quite obvious you know nothing of the Tea Party movement of its goals. Obama and his socialist agenda are so much more a threat. Why would America want to be more like Europe? Europe is a dying socialist experiment slowing being absorbed by Muslims and other minorities from Africa and Turkey.

  • Jim Olson

    And, John A., you do write amazing stuff too. Which is why I’m still a reader after all these years. :)

  • Jim Olson

    Well, so it is. It’s excellent. Congratulations, Jon.

  • pappyvet

    Elominarionists are basically cowards who twist our country’s history to fit their agenda. The number of hate groups since President Obama was first elected has increased dramatically. I’m not much for many of the things his administration has done and left undone,but thank your lucky stars that Romney was not elected. By the way Mit…how about those tax returns

  • NMRon

    My thoughts exactly. The most vociferous anti-American group in the world. Whose membership is acquiring weapons and recruiting assassins to engage in the violent overthrow of our government. Trillions spent to combat a few hundred Taliban jihadists around the world. How about spending some of that to combat the few million American jihadists engaged in killing Americans at home?

  • Given the eliminationist rhetoric of the Teabaggers and other far-right radical regressive groups — yes, they deserve to be watched.

    But the IRS is so not the right hammer for that particular screw. The closest category the actual liberal/progressive left has even vaguely resembling them are the anarchists who, unlike the ‘Baggers and The Conservatives Who Love Them, are generally disavowed and repudiated by us law-abiding liberals and progressives.

    However, the IRS going after non-profit groups is nothing new. The Gawker has this story here about progressive churches being audited in 2004 for opposing Bush’s reelection and speaking out against the illegal war in Iraq:

    Only 25% of the 300 scrutinized groups seeking non-profit status were reportedly affiliated with right-wing causes. Whether the rest aligned with left-leaning causes like abortion and climate change will not be known until the entire list is released. The IRS told Gawker today that the full list has yet to be made public.

    The IRS has yet to reveal the non-Tea Party non-profits investigated in 2012, but at least one other politically motivated wave of harassment was revealed in 2006, when tax officials went after a liberal church in Pasadena.

    All Saints Episcopal Church was threatened with the loss of the church’s tax-exempt status because the congregation allegedly heard political speech from the pulpit. The church’s then-rector, the Reverend George F. Regas was accused of being anti-war in his sermons.

    These sermons took place during the 2004 presidential campaign between George W. Bush and John Kerry. During the Bush Administration and many presidencies before it, actively agitating against one of Washington’s wars will get the IRS sniffing into your business—even when your stated
    business is not for profit.

    The witch hunt of liberal churches happened under the leadership of IRS commissioner Mark Whitty Everson, a Republican appointed by George W. Bush in 2003. Another Bush appointee, Douglas Schulman, headed the IRS during the scrutiny of Tea Party groups seeking non-profit status in 2012. Schulman’s term ended on November 11, after the 2012 election.

    It’s worth a read. And I’ve a feeling it comes as no surprise that the IRS has been used as a cudgel for political oppression, based on whichever party is in power.

    I for one was shocked and saddened, yet not surprised when it was clear that All Saints was audited not because they were against Bush’s re-election, but because they were outspoken against the war. If that doesn’t chill genuine freedom lovers to the bones, I don’t know what will.

  • That’s Jon Green who wrote this, just fyi

  • Jim Olson

    John, I think this is among the best things you’ve ever written.

  • nicho

    The IRS shouldn’t have been investigating the Tea Party. They should have been focusing on the churches.

    And it wasn’t the IRS, but a couple of agents in a field office free-lancing. Of course, the knuckle draggers will whip it up into another phony crisis — like Benghazi.

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