richmond-tea-partyBy Peter Galuszka

News that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has targeted Tea party groups, including one in Virginia, along with other right wing organizations is deeply disturbing and conjures up ghosts of other government witchhunts.

President Barack Obama has chastized the IRS for singling out the Tea Party and other groups that say they want to educate Americans about their constitution. One group that got “dozens and dozens” of questions about its application for a non-profit status was the Richmond Tea Party, according to leader Laurence Nordvig.

A government report traces the IRS activity to its Cincinnati field office that was charged with reviewing applications for non-profit status.

True, there are any number of groups seeking non-profit status for flimsy reasons, but being part of the Tea Party sure isn’t one of them.

And, using taxes as a weapon is hardly new and has been used by all sides of the political spectrum. Richard Nixon was famous for sicking the IRS on his “enemies” list in the 1970s. In Russia, Vladimir Putin used the Russian tax authorities to imprison potential political rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky who remains incarcerated.

Throughout the Civil Rights and Vietnam War era, the FBI had its COUNTELPRO to gather information about and disrupt groups on both left and right, including the NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Cuban and Irish nationalist organizations.

Some groups merited watching such as some of the Weathermen and the Ku Klux Klan who practiced violence.

But it is wrong for the federal government to harass peaceful, law-abiding political groups. I may not agree with the Tea Party, but they do meet this description.

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5 responses to “The Tea Party and IRS Abuse”

  1. Breckinridge Avatar

    Hey, are you comparing Obama to Nixon or LBJ? If one of us conservatives did it, the howling would be incessant.

    But the real issue here, to my mind, is tell me again why I have to pay taxes when I buy a computer or a office supplies for my work, but some political party gets a tax exemption? Why do they get subsidized postal rates? I see a certain irony in these government-distrusting, “starve the beast” groups standing in line for special tax treatment with the churches and the charities….these are the tax breaks, the examples of cronyism, that no politician in either party dares discuss…..if EVERYBODY paid on EVERYTHING nobody would have to pay much at all…..

  2. This incident again demonstrates that we need one set of rules that apply to Democrats and Republicans; conservatives and liberals. If Nixon was wrong (and he sure was), so too is Obama.

    Peter, well done for being consistent.

  3. DJRippert Avatar

    Obama needs to “man up” and clean house at the IRS. In fact, he ought to open an investigation into the IRS’ abuse of power in this matter. Obama is beginning to look more and more like a weakling who can’t manage the organizations he was elected to lead.

  4. larryg Avatar

    both sides do this and the other side howls as they should.

    this is totally unacceptable. It’s dismaying to me that the IRS “admits” this and Obama has yet to say anything.

    I expect him to fire those responsible, no questions asked – and that includes the management people under who these abuses occurred.

    but we have to stop this from happening, from allowing it to happen, no matter which administration is doing it.

    by now dealing with this right away, Obama is doing the country a disservice because he now not only looks bad for not manning up but he’s continuing the precedent … putting himself in the same category as other POTUS before him that this happened.

    We do have to remember though that many anti-govt groups believe that they should not be paying taxes to start with … and if we do not have rules that are enforced – and more and more abuses occur, WHERE do you draw the line. At some point, it appears that you’d be “going after” some group – arbitrarily.

    the rules need to be up-front and enforced all the time – not just when someone at the IRS decides it’s time ….

  5. Darrell Avatar

    Look, the government is being a busy little bee collecting unfathomable amounts of data on each citizen for storage and data mining, bypassing what most Americans consider their Constitutional Rights. They reassure us by promising that much of this data is protected, and even cite laws like PII and HIPPA to convince us that they are safeguarding our innermost secrets.

    Then something like this or the AP journalist wiretaps happen, and we are supposed to continue to believe they have our interests at heart.

    It’s not about the IRS and lower level employees. It’s about whether we are going to be free to exercise our rights that this country was founded on.

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