In March 2012, The Washington Examiner published my op-ed entitled "Why is the IRS asking Tea Party groups if they know me?" The IRS, at the time, denied that conservative groups were being targeted.
On Friday, the IRS admitted it had indeed been targeting conservative groups and that doing so it was "inappropriate." The admission initially blamed this action on low-level staff in Cincinnati.
What hasn't been broadly discussed is that these letters included the name of one individual citizen in particular: me. In a question to a Cincinnati-area group, the IRS requested that it "provide details regarding your relationship with Justin Binik-Thomas."
The IRS has not formally acknowledged, clarified or apologized for this particular question. Political targeting of a group within the IRS is immoral, unethical and illegal. Political targeting of individuals by the IRS is much more dangerous and borders on sinister. It is in direct contrast to our constitutional protections. The politicization of the taxing agency, and soon-to-be health care enforcement agency, causes real concerns. A year after the initial inquiry, I remain troubled by that question. I have not yet been audited, thankfully, but the question was asked and data was retrieved.
It has no relevance on the tax status for the liberty group, so we need to know what purpose it is intended to serve and what purpose it can be used for in the future. This puts my small business and its clients at unnecessary risk.
Citizens deserve to know what steps the IRS has taken, both systematically and with personnel, to assure they remain in their mandate. Sending official letters to targeted groups should be a no-brainer. These letters would, of course, include a certification that information collected will not be used against them.
The IRS' apology is a good first step. It is hard to look at someone wronged and say "I'm sorry," as evidenced by the agency's muted apology a year after the incident. The appropriate next steps for the IRS include putting additional safeguards in place to assure it does not happen again. There has been no public discussion or promise that it will work to mitigate future risk.
The IRS official outreach to the targeted individual should be much more specific. This attack on me could be the tip of the iceberg, since it sets a dangerous precedent that cannot be repeated.
It should include the same assurances provided to the targeted groups as well as additional clarity. This clarity should include which groups, beyond the Cincinnati-area organization, received my name.
I'd also like to know what information was received about me in response and where that information was shared. This includes, but is not limited to, governmental agencies, public records releases and media interactions.
In my initial op-ed I asked, "Am I so successful in my roles so as to be a threat to this administration? Am I so well known to be a valuable target? Or am I a pawn in a witch-hunt in the pursuit of another group or individual? How high does this go? Perhaps it is time for Congress to ask some pointed questions of the IRS."
Some in Congress have suggested that now is the time for formal investigations. I agree -- call me.
Justin Binik-Thomas is a resident of Deer Park, Ohio and a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University and the University of Cincinnati. In addition to working in the medical industry, he specializes in media relations and communications as owner/consultant with Conservative Media Group LLC.