Democrats have to change the narrative. After weeks of pushing back against charges that the IRS targeted conservative groups by saying that liberals were targeted too, the Treasury Department inspector general has released an audit showing that 292 tea party and other conservative groups were targeted while only 6 progressive groups were.
Not only that, every single conservative group came in for special treatment. Only 30% of progressive groups received additional scrutiny.
The Wednesday letter to the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee punched a huge hole in Democratic claims that progressive groups were targeted as much as the Tea Party groups from May 2010-May 2012, the height of the Tea Party movement.
The letter from the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed that there just weren't many progressive groups who even sought special tax exempt status. A total of 20 sought it, and six were probed. All 292 Tea Party groups, meanwhile, were part of the IRS witchhunt.
"At this point, the evidence shows us that conservative groups were not only flagged, but targeted and abused by the IRS," said Sarah Swinehart spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee.
"As we gather the facts, we will follow them wherever they lead us. Chairman [Rep. David] Camp encourages all groups, regardless of political affiliation, that feel they may have been targeted to come forward and share their story."
Democrats had noticed that the word "progressives" was on the so-called Be On The Lookout, or BOLO, list. But the Treasury IG suggested that the list wasn't used.
The operative paragraph from the IG letter:
"Based on the information you flagged regarding the existence of a 'Progressives' entry on BOLO lists, TIGTA performed additional research which determined that six tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 having the words 'progress' or 'progressive' in their names were included in the 298 cases the IRS identified as potential political cases. We also determined that 14 tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 using the words 'progress' or 'progressive' in their names were not referred for added scrutiny as potential political cases. In total, 30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words 'progress' or "progressive" in their names were processed as potential political cases. In comparison, our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit."
That answers one question; how many. Now for the $64,000 query: why? Speculating that it was politically motivated is fine, but without proof, no one can be blamed or prosecuted. IRS managemnet is taking the 5th to avoid potential prosecution, which means they think someone, somewhere broke the law.
Who it was, and why will be the answers sought by the 5 House and Senate committees looking into the scandal. It is going to be a long, hot, summer for the IRS.