IRS victims to testify at hearing today

Six conservative groups are scheduled to appear before the House Ways and Means Committee today to testify about their experiences with the IRS in trying to get tax exempt status for their organizations.

The Hill:

The Ways and Means hearing on Tuesday is set to be the first to hear directly from groups seeking tax-exempt status that say they were singled out for their politics.

John Eastman, the president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) - a prominent group opposing same-sex marriage - is among those scheduled to appear, after NOM announced plans last month to sue the IRS.

The marriage group says the IRS leaked confidential tax information to the Human Rights Campaign, a key supporter of same-sex marriage. NOM broadcast its plans to sue shortly after the IRS apologized for the extra scrutiny it gave to groups with "Tea Party" and "patriots" in their name.

Four of the other groups that have representatives scheduled to testify - the Laurens County Tea Party, the Wetumpka Tea Party, the San Fernando Valley Patriots and the Linchpins of Liberty - are all among the roughly 25 groups taking part in a lawsuit against the IRS filed by the American Center for Law and Justice.

The sixth group, the Coalition for Life of Iowa, was asked not to protest in front of Planned Parenthood offices as a condition of their tax-exempt application being approved, according to media reports.

The Tuesday hearing is scheduled to be the second on the IRS controversy for Ways and Means, and fifth overall in Congress. Danny Werfel, the new acting IRS chief, makes his debut in that role before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Monday.

The pushback meme of the week by the administration and Democrats is that this is not a White House scandal, but rather an agency scandal. True, there is no smoking gun evidence to tie the White House directly to the IRS threats and intimidation that committee members will hear today. But Russell George, the Treasury Department IG who wrote the report revealing the targeting program, had this to say about the scandal:

"During the Nixon administration, there were attempts to use the Internal Revenue Services in manners that might be comparable in terms of misusing it. I'm not saying the actions taken here are comparable," he told a House Appropriations subcommittee. "This is unprecedented."

At a hearing on Thursday, the House Oversight Committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa will hear from some of those "rogue" employees at the IRS Cincinnati office who supposedly cooked the whole thing up all by themselves. We are likely to get a slightly difference story from them.

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