After the IRS was caught in shameless criminal political warfare against conservatives, you would think that the powers that be would go slow for awhile and wait for the scandal to blow over. But that is not happening. They are doubling down. The lesson here is that the plundering of the IRS are not their worst feature. If all they did was loot us, we would be immeasurably better off.
The IRS is another form of the NSA. They are an organization whose main purpose is domestic spying. By finding out about groups and their members, the IRS enables powerful people, both inside and outside of government, to hurt and destroy political enemies.
Thus, the New York Times reports,
A collection of perhaps 1,500 right-leaning players in the entertainment industry, Friends of Abe keeps a low profile and fiercely protects its membership list, to avoid what it presumes would result in a sort of 21st-century blacklist, albeit on the other side of the partisan spectrum.
Now the Internal Revenue Service is reviewing the group’s activities in connection with its application for tax-exempt status. Last week, federal tax authorities presented the group with a 10-point request for detailed information about its meetings with politicians like Paul D. Ryan, Thaddeus McCotter and Herman Cain, among other matters, according to people briefed on the inquiry.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the organization’s confidentiality strictures, and to avoid complicating discussions with the I.R.S.
Those people said that the application had been under review for roughly two years, and had at one point included a demand — which was not met — for enhanced access to the group’s security-protected website, which would have revealed member names. Tax experts said that an organization’s membership list is information that would not typically be required. The I.R.S. already had access to the site’s basic levels, a request it considers routine for applications for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
Friends of Abe — the name refers to Abraham Lincoln — has strongly discouraged the naming of its members. That policy even prohibits the use of cameras at group events, to avoid the unwilling identification of all but a few associates — the actors Gary Sinise, Jon Voight and Kelsey Grammer, or the writer-producer Lionel Chetwynd, for instance — who have spoken openly about their conservative political views.
The New York Times story goes on to mention the IRS scandal of targeting conservative groups. But all it mentions is the harassment. It doesn’t tell readers that IRS personnel also illegally sent information about some of those organizations to the FEC. That is only what we have caught. We have no idea who else someone might have leaked confidential information to.
That is the real offense of the IRS. Normally, I would say that stealing is a pretty serious crime. But it’s power to get information that could be used against the organization is even more insidious.
Finally, the Times story tries to excuse the IRS harassment by pointing out that Friends of Abe is applying for a more strict 501(c)3 status. But as soon as it mentions People for the American Way, it shows the reader the truth. Norman Lear’s liberal organization never got this kind of shake down. If it had, there would have been an uproar.