Less than two weeks after President Obama insisted that there wasn’t even a “smidgen of corruption” involved in the IRS targeting scandal, it appears that the scope of that scandal is widening.
Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, revealed yesterday that the committee’s investigation had found that it wasn’t only conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) status that came in for IRS targeting and harassment. Existing 501(c)(4)’s were targeted, as well. In fact, Camp stated,
At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83% were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100% were right-leaning.
That’s right — “somehow,” every single 501(c)(4) that the IRS selected to endure the time, expense, distraction and stress of an audit just happened to be conservative.
The fact that existing 501(c)(4)’s were targeted along with applicants is important. First, though it isn’t conclusive, it does provide further evidence (as if any were needed!) that the scrutiny endured by conservative 501(c)(4) applicants had less to do with “confusion” over the (c)(4) rules than with efforts at political suppression. Second, it suggests that the targeting was part of a deliberate, widespread agency policy rather than restricted to “bad apples” in just one narrow area.
There are still plenty of documents that haven’t been turned over to investigators yet, and plenty of witnesses who haven’t yet been interviewed. Given how damaging the evidence already is, Democrats eager to defend the IRS and push through formalized rules to suppress (c)(4)’s might be well-advised to hold off until the facts are out — because the scandal is only broadening, and the IRS is looking worse by the day.