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Another nail in the coffin of the so-called IRS scandal

wonk0513

The scandal-mongers of a few months ago aren’t likely to have anything  to say about THIS:

Officials at the Internal Revenue Service were encouraged to flag groups with the word “emerge” in their names as well as potential successors to the anti-poverty organization ACORN, according to documents released by Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

The documents add another complicated layer to the ongoing (albeit diminished) controversy surrounding the IRS screening of Tea Party groups in 2010 and 2011. They also take additional steam out of the Republican Party’s insistence that the tax agency was politically motivated against conservative groups when it considered whether or not to grant tax-exempt, 501(c)(4) status.

Groups with the word “emerge” in the name tend to lean more Democratic. As The New York TImes previously reported, three such organizations — Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts — all were denied tax-exempt status because the IRS determined that they existed strictly to benefit Democratic candidates.

“Once again it is clear that the Inspector General’s report left out critical information that skewed the audit’s findings and set the stage for Republicans to make completely baseless accusations in an effort to tarnish the White House,” said House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) in a prepared statement. “These new documents make it clear the IRS scrutiny of the political activity of 501(c)(4) organizations covered a broad spectrum of political ideology and was not politically motivated.”

The documents suggest that IRS screeners had cross-ideological guidelines when asked to determine whether or not to grant 501(c)(4) status. For example, in a Screening Workshop document released on July 28, 2010, the IRS listed “emerge” right under the words “Patriot” and “9/12 Project” as activities to screen. The concern, the document added, was that these groups “may be more than 50% political” and possibly a political action committee in disguise.

In accompanying notes from that screening workshop, a list of “names and/or titles” of interest that “should be flagged for review” included: 9/12 Project, Emerge, Progressive, We The People, Rally Patriots and Pink-Slip Program.

Meanwhile, in a be-on-the-lookout list dated Aug. 12, 2010, the IRS urged screeners to flag “ACORN successors” for “touch and go” determination. This was the same process that the IRS applied to pro-Israel groups, as well. Tea Party groups, meanwhile, fell under the IRS’ “emerging issues” rubric.

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