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Surprise: IRS officials in DC also involved in singling out conservative groups for extra scrutiny, leaking info

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By Doug Powers  •  May 14, 2013 09:48 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

The Boston Herald is going all in:

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Meet the “low level IRS employees” who worked out of the Cincinnati office:

Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.

IRS employees in Cincinnati told conservatives seeking the status of “social welfare” groups that a task force in Washington was overseeing their applications, according to interviews with the activists.

Knowledge of the practice went at least all the way to the top of the IRS:

The IRS issued a statement Monday saying that Miller had been briefed on May 3, 2012 “that some specific applications were improperly identified by name and sent to the (exempt organizations) centralized processing unit for further review.” That was the unit in Cincinnati that handled the tea party applications.

Miller became acting commissioner in November, after Commissioner Douglas Shulman completed his five-year term. Shulman had been appointed by President George W. Bush.

How far beyond the top of the IRS this goes remains to be seen. Jay Carney said the White House was unaware of any of this until recently. Carney also said that the IRS’s actions, though inexcusable, weren’t planned in advance and might have been motivated by a YouTube video. Wait, I got that mixed up with something else. Never mind.

As if all this wasn’t troubling enough, the IRS actually leaked the information to the non-profit ProPublica (and who knows how many others). ProPublica just happens to have among its financial supporters an Obama bundler by the name of Jeffrey Katzenberg. That might help explain this observation:

Also, Massachusetts Democrats (is that redundant?) express outrage:

Outraged Bay State Democrats are blasting President Obama for exhibiting a Nixonian abuse of power after the stunning news that the Department of Justice secretly obtained Associated Press phone records and the IRS targeted conservative groups — new scandals emerging against the backdrop of heightened Benghazi criticism.

“There’s no way in the world I’m going to defend that. Hell, I spent my youth vilifying the Nixon administration for doing the same thing. If they did that, there should be hell to pay,” U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Somerville) said about the IRS scandal. “Not only is it bad government and bad to society, it is horrendous politics. The worst thing you can do is give your opponent an easy hammer with which to hit you.”

“It doesn’t seem to be a couple rogue employees. This appeared to be a systemic issue,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-South Boston), who wants to investigate the matter as a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee already has scheduled a hearing on the issue for this week, Lynch said, adding, “No American should find themselves the target of the IRS or any other federal organization because of their political beliefs.”

There should be outrage about this from both sides of the aisle, but it’s probably too much to hope for that those who continually call for bigger government will take a lesson from this example of an inevitable effect of big government.

Last but not least: For some, there is no “off” position on the idiot switch.

Update: From President Obama’s commencement speech at Ohio State University on May 5th:

Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems. Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.

Uh huh.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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