The Internal Revenue Service dropped a bombshell on the political world Friday morning, acknowledging that it inappropriately targeted conservative political groups in the 2012 campaign, subjecting them to additional screening in their applications for tax-exempt status. An IRS official told the Associated Press that low-level staff unjustly focused on groups with words like “tea party” and “patriot” in their name, and the groups were asked for donor information, likely in violation of IRS policy. The news was met with a healthy dose of I-told-you-so from the conservative and tea party communities, which have long been pitted against the IRS and have in the past accused it of just such politically inappropriate behavior.
The explosive nature of the admission is evident; conservative media will be all over this from the word “go.” The political implications of the budding scandal are a little harder to suss out this early.
First and foremost, Republicans and tea party groups see the IRS’s apology and the questions that will follow as a rallying cry for their cause — a cause that hasn’t had a whole lot to get excited about in recent months and years. Tea party groups, in particular, have waned in influence significantly since the 2010 election.
Republicans have long accused the Obama administration of politicizing agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, for example. And what could inflame the passions of limited government activists more than the government unjustly targeting conservative groups?
“Fox (News) will be all over this like white-on-rice,” said one Republican granted anonymity to offer a candid take. “Holy cow, the IRS targeted the word ‘patriot.’ That’s perfect!” At least one tea party group, the Tea Party Patriots, is already calling for an investigation and the resignations of those involved.
Full Article: The IRS’s big admission: What it means.