Here is the clearest account yet of the origins and timeline of the IRS’s war on conservative, Tea Party, pro-Israel, and other organizations that do not please liberals. In Connecting the Dots in the IRS Scandal, in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Bradley A. Smith begins:
The mainstream press has justified its lack of coverage over the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups because there’s been no “smoking gun” tying President Obama to the scandal. This betrays a remarkable, if not willful, failure to understand abuse of power. The political pressure on the IRS to delay or deny tax-exempt status for conservative groups has been obvious to anyone who cares to open his eyes. It did not come from a direct order from the White House, but it didn’t have to.
Smith is the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. He is a distinguished legal scholar, an expert on election law, and happily for us, a remarkably clear writer for those of us who get lost among the twists and turns and arcane vocabulary of legal writing. His account begins with this background:
On Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United v. FEC upholding the right of corporations and unions to make independent expenditures in political races. Then, on March 26, relying on Citizens United, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rights of persons (including corporations) to pool resources for political purposes. This allowed the creation of “super PACs” as well as corporate contributions to groups organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that spend in political races.
The reaction to Citizens United was no secret. Various news outlets such as CNN noted that “Democrats fear the decision has given the traditionally pro-business GOP a powerful new advantage.”
Smith understates the reaction. The left was hysterical about the Citizens United decision and remains so to this day. What followed was a concerted effort to silence conservative groups. Here are the the items of 15 Smith lists that directly involve President Obama.
• Jan. 27, 2010: President Obama criticizes Citizens United in his State of the Union address and asks Congress to “correct” the decision.
• …in March 2010, Mr. Obama publicly criticizes conservative 501(c)(4) organizations engaging in politics. In his Aug. 21 radio address, he warns Americans about “shadowy groups with harmless sounding names” and a “corporate takeover of our democracy.”
• Sept. 28, 2010: Mr. Obama publicly accuses conservative 501(c)(4) organizations of “posing as not-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups.”
• April 2011: White House officials confirm that Mr. Obama is considering an executive order that would require all government contractors to disclose their donations to politically active organizations as part of their bids for government work. The proposal is later dropped amid opposition across the political spectrum.
The other items are about actions by members of Congress and the IRS. Sen. Chuck Schumer kicked off the campaign in February 2010, saying “he would introduce legislation known as the Disclose Act to place new restrictions on some political activity by corporations and force more public disclosure of contributions to 501(c)(4) organizations. Mr. Schumer says the bill is intended to ’embarrass companies’ out of exercising the rights recognized in Citizens United.”
But it didn’t really heat up until 2012, when a gang of Democratic senators put pressure on the IRS time after time to target and pressure conservative groups. The last item is this — you may have seen it in the news a couple of weeks ago:
• Feb. 13, 2014: The Hill newspaper reports that “Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races.”
Looks like a smoking gun to me. As Smith concludes:
In 1170, King Henry II is said to have cried out, on hearing of the latest actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights then murdered the archbishop. Many in the U.S. media still willfully refuse to see anything connecting the murder of the archbishop to any actions or abuse of power by the king.