IRS still using the same targeting criteria against conservatives

Court filings made public this week reveal that the IRS is still using the same criteria to target Tea Party and other conservative groups, despite a promise from IRS commissioner John Koskinen that the agency had stopped the practice.

Washington Times:

The IRS is refusing to recant the targeting criteria it used to single out tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny, according to court filings made public Wednesday that show the tax agency still struggling with the fallout from the scandal.

At least three tea party groups are still awaiting approval from the IRS more than three years after agents publicly admitted they’d asked inappropriate questions and put the groups through unreasonable delays in obtaining tax-exempt status.

Last month the IRS told both Congress and a federal judge that it would start processing the outstanding applications — but the agency has refused to say how or when, leaving the groups themselves struggling to make sense of things.

Making matters ever more difficult, the IRS specifically refused in court papers to reject further use of the criteria it used to single out tea party and conservative groups in the first place.

“Despite all the representations made by the IRS about having changed its ways, it still asserts that the viewpoint-based Targeting Criteria are relevant for making a determination of tax-exempt status,” Edward Greim, the lawyer representing tea party groups in a class-action lawsuit, told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Just weeks ago, IRS Commissioner John G. Koskinen had assured Congress the targeting was a thing of the past, and said his agency will no longer use the “Be on lookout,” or BOLO, lists.

Mr. Koskinen was responding after a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., delivered a firm rebuke to the tax agency, saying that as long as groups singled out for special scrutiny are still awaiting approval, the targeting is still going on.

After the admonition, the tax commissioner ordered his agents to begin to process the applications of the Texas Patriots Tea Party and two other groups that have been waiting years. One of them, the Albuquerque Tea Party, has been waiting for nearly seven years.

“There should be no doubt that the use of BOLO lists has not just been temporarily suspended, it has been eliminated,” Mr. Koskinen said in letters to key committees on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Greim told the judge it was impossible to reconcile Mr. Koskinen’s assurances with the IRS‘ own declarations to the court in a July filing that it would not recant the use of its “targeting criteria” to evaluate tea party groups in the future.

The arrogance of the IRS, its flouting of court orders, and its dismissal of having done anything wrong shows why many Republicans in the House want to impeach Koskinen.  But Senate Republicans don't want to touch the impeachment issue largely because it's a lost cause.  There is no way the Senate GOP can muster the two-thirds vote to kick Koskinen out of office.  Majority Leader McConnell sees the impeachment as a time-waster, given the heavy workload facing the Senate between now and the recess in October.

It's apparently up to the conservative groups who are suing the IRS to get them to stop the practice.  Given the court filings revealed this week, the IRS doesn't seem to be interested in changing its ways.

Court filings made public this week reveal that the IRS is still using the same criteria to target Tea Party and other conservative groups, despite a promise from IRS commissioner John Koskinen that the agency had stopped the practice.

Washington Times:

The IRS is refusing to recant the targeting criteria it used to single out tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny, according to court filings made public Wednesday that show the tax agency still struggling with the fallout from the scandal.

At least three tea party groups are still awaiting approval from the IRS more than three years after agents publicly admitted they’d asked inappropriate questions and put the groups through unreasonable delays in obtaining tax-exempt status.

Last month the IRS told both Congress and a federal judge that it would start processing the outstanding applications — but the agency has refused to say how or when, leaving the groups themselves struggling to make sense of things.

Making matters ever more difficult, the IRS specifically refused in court papers to reject further use of the criteria it used to single out tea party and conservative groups in the first place.

“Despite all the representations made by the IRS about having changed its ways, it still asserts that the viewpoint-based Targeting Criteria are relevant for making a determination of tax-exempt status,” Edward Greim, the lawyer representing tea party groups in a class-action lawsuit, told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Just weeks ago, IRS Commissioner John G. Koskinen had assured Congress the targeting was a thing of the past, and said his agency will no longer use the “Be on lookout,” or BOLO, lists.

Mr. Koskinen was responding after a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., delivered a firm rebuke to the tax agency, saying that as long as groups singled out for special scrutiny are still awaiting approval, the targeting is still going on.

After the admonition, the tax commissioner ordered his agents to begin to process the applications of the Texas Patriots Tea Party and two other groups that have been waiting years. One of them, the Albuquerque Tea Party, has been waiting for nearly seven years.

“There should be no doubt that the use of BOLO lists has not just been temporarily suspended, it has been eliminated,” Mr. Koskinen said in letters to key committees on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Greim told the judge it was impossible to reconcile Mr. Koskinen’s assurances with the IRS‘ own declarations to the court in a July filing that it would not recant the use of its “targeting criteria” to evaluate tea party groups in the future.

The arrogance of the IRS, its flouting of court orders, and its dismissal of having done anything wrong shows why many Republicans in the House want to impeach Koskinen.  But Senate Republicans don't want to touch the impeachment issue largely because it's a lost cause.  There is no way the Senate GOP can muster the two-thirds vote to kick Koskinen out of office.  Majority Leader McConnell sees the impeachment as a time-waster, given the heavy workload facing the Senate between now and the recess in October.

It's apparently up to the conservative groups who are suing the IRS to get them to stop the practice.  Given the court filings revealed this week, the IRS doesn't seem to be interested in changing its ways.