This Price Is Right: Stop the IRS

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Turns out, the IRS scandals aren’t as “phony” as the President wants us to believe. Two days after he brushed off the discrimination against conservatives as another “distraction,” a series of emails is suggesting anything but. Sources at the National Review stunned everyone Wednesday morning with the revelation that the IRS may not have been the only federal agency in on the scheme to target right-wing groups. In emails obtained by NRO, it seems the plot seeped into the Federal Election Commission (FEC), where the IRS’s tax exempt office appears to have conspired against conservative organizations on at least two occasions.

In one instance, a lawyer for the FEC, whose job is to police campaign finance law, tried to force an investigation into a conservative group by using tax information that the IRS illegally provided. “When we spoke last month,” the FEC attorney writes to the IRS’s Lois Lerner, “you had told us that the American Future Fund had not received an exemption from the IRS.” Soon after, the attorney recommended that the FEC prosecute the group for violations of campaign finance law. “The timing of the correspondence,” NRO writes, “…suggests that the lawyer sought information from the IRS in order to influence an upcoming vote by the six FEC commissioners [who decide whether or not to investigate].” The FEC also asked the IRS for the private tax information of another conservative organization, which it provided — illegally.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is outraged by the revelations and has asked the IRS to provide all of its communications with the FEC from 2008-2012. “The American public is entitled to know whether the IRS is inappropriately sharing their confidential tax information with other agencies,” they write in a letter to acting IRS Chief Danny Werfel. In the meantime, this kind of documented collusion is sure to boost Rep. Tom Price’s (R-Ga.) chances with the “Keep the IRS off Your Health Care Act.”

His bill, which is scheduled for a floor vote tomorrow, would strip the IRS of its authority to enforce ObamaCare. As of today, the measure had 141 cosponsors — a sign of members’ growing frustration with an agency so ideologically motivated that it won’t even cooperate with Congress’s investigation. So far, Rep. Camp says the IRS has provided the House with “less than three percent” of the documents it’s requested. And of the documents it has received, most pages are completely redacted!

Meanwhile, the President is only digging a deeper hole with his suggestion that this is a manufactured controversy. At a White House press conference yesterday, Jay Carney tried to answer reporters’ questions about how these scandals (which the President called “outrageous” a couple months ago) could suddenly be “phony.” “What some in Congress have failed to do,” Carney replied, “is to provide any evidence — because there is none — that [the] activity was in any way known by or directed by the White House — or was even partisan or political.”

Regardless of the President’s personal involvement, there’s no denying the fact that these attacks were blatantly partisan and political. Conservative groups were asked three times as many questions as liberal organizations in their tax exempt requests. The IRS was also more likely to delay or deny their applications. What does the President call that — a coincidence?