New Evidence that the IRS Targeted Left-Leaning Groups More than Tea Party Groups (Infographic)

Michael Teague  |

New information has emerged from last year’s seemingly almost-forgotten IRS/Tea Party scandal.

If we try really hard, we can all probably recall the outrage and righteousness among Republican politicians last May when it was revealed that everyone’s favorite tax collector, the Internal Revenue Service, was found to have singled out Tea Party groups for extra and unnecessary scrutiny when such groups applied for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) tax-exemption status as nonprofit, social welfare organizations.

Indeed the reactions were often rather stentorian. Consider House Speaker John Boehner, who during the course of an interview with the Washington Post asked "My question isn't about who's going to resign, my question is who's going to jail over this scandal?”

So far nobody has gone to jail, but such strong language at the time was the rule rather than the exception. From the Republican side of the aisle, rhetorical displays such as this one are easily explained by the Tea Party’s sway with right-leaning voters as well as junior congresspersons.

But, from the outset, it was also reported (if less noticeably) that left-leaning groups were similarly targeted by the IRS, particularly left-of-liberal groups such as those involved with the Occupy movement, Palestinian rights advocates, medicinal marijuana supporters, and others.

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That leftist groups were targeted should come as no surprise to anyone with an adequate awareness of politics since the 19th century. Thankfully, in this instance at least, it was the IRS doing the targeting rather than, say, vigilantes, militias, or secret service organizations.

Be that as it may, new documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Think Progress show the extent to which advocacy and nonprofit groups on the left were singled out for extra questioning when applying for tax-exempt status.

Indeed, when looking at the following infographic from Liberland that was produced based on the obtained data, of the 22 “Be On the Lookout” keywords used by the IRS to flag specific organizations, it turns out that the majority were devoted to groups on the left rather than those on the right, and by a fairly significant margin.

While this news won’t make anywhere near as huge a scandal as the original one, it certainly does seem to contradict the narrative of conservative martyrdom that was actively promulgated by key Republican politicians in the wake of the original revelations.


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