Perhaps there are no two words in the English language that strike more fear among American citizens than “IRS” and “audit.” But this time the tables are turned and the entity being audited is the IRS itself. What those friendly green-eye-shade auditors found was both surprising and unsurprising. And the results clearly demonstrate that former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner should be sporting an orange jumpsuit with matching handcuffs to complete the ensemble.
Naturally, the audit found Tea Party groups were systematically being targeted and denied their 501c (3) non-profit status. They also found that pro-border security groups were singled-out for IRS scrutiny. But the shocker here is that auditors found some leftists were on the IRS hit list. Non-profit entities such as Occupy Wall Street as well as libertarians advocating marijuana legalization were flagged, according to the Inspector General audit.
A Little Schadenfreude is in Order
Any conservative worth his salt must admit that a little bit of schadenfreude is in order here. The IRS essentially harassed hundreds of conservative organizations for years, and a class action lawsuit led by the Northern California Tea Party is still pending. Some of these red flags went up for no other reason that the words “Constitution” and “liberty” appeared in their applications for non-profit status.
Furious conservatives have long asked what kind of republic the United States has become if the word “Constitution” sets off alarms at a government agency. A cogent question, indeed.
These fledgeling-organizations were essentially put through a bureaucratic wringer that included, “long delays in getting approvals, and some faced the same kinds of intrusive questions about donors, personal beliefs and even their activities at their unrelated jobs,” according to multiple sources including The Washington Times. This type of heinous ideological pursuit of ordinary Americans runs counter to the First Amendment that holds political speech as one of the highest forms of protected speech.
Protected or Pursued
One must ask just how protected our political speech really is if the most powerful of government agencies is not only permitted – but likely encouraged – to come after you to silence or shut your organization down? The obvious answer is — not much. Worse, it reeks of corruption as well as an appalling abuse of power.
The question that begs to be asked and answered is what kind of bureaucratic environment was created to permit these transgressions to occur with impunity? Could it be the adage about absolute power corrupting absolutely? This type of systematic iniquity clearly smacks of an internal edict and not a single gaffe here or there. And it certainly does not sound like a renegade IRS agent run amok – unless, of course, that person was very high up in the food chain. Perhaps someone with the power of Ms. Lerner? Funny how her name keeps popping up.
Lois Lerner’s Trail of Chaos
To date, Ms. Learner has left a trail of chaos in her wake. This includes a contempt of Congress citation, invoking her Fifth Amendment rights and the magic erasure of emails due to a “hard-drive crash” that just happened to occur before a Congressional investigation. Ultimately the case against Lerner was closed sans any criminal charges. One can only cite Hillary Rodham Clinton has having outdone Lois Lerner in this department.
As of this writing, Ms. Lerner sits in her posh Bethesda, Maryland home on a government pension estimated at $52k per year or a lifetime payout of up to $2M. And that, dear readers, is nothing short of criminal. But as Yogi Berra so famously said, “It’s not over until it’s over.”
In April of this year, two lawmakers, Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Peter Roskam (R-IL) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting the DOJ re-open their case against Lerner. This recent audit by the IRS adds accelerant to that fire.
One can only hope that someday, somehow, Ms. Lerner is held accountable and made to atone for whatever went on in the IRS under her tenure as the Exempt Organizations Division director. Still, our justice system allows that one is innocent until proven guilty but we must never forget that it’s Raison d’être is to impose penalties on those who violate its laws.