Treasury: IRS targeted 292 Tea Party groups, just 6 progressive groups

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Treasury,Tea Party,IRS

Refuting Democratic suggestions that progressive groups were also swept up in the IRS probe of the tax status of Tea Party organizations, the Treasury Department's inspector general has revealed that just six progressive groups were targeted compared to 292 conservative groups.

In a letter to congressional Democrats, the inspector general also said that 100 percent of Tea Party groups seeking special tax status were put under IRS review, while only 30 percent of the progressive groups felt the same pressure.

The Wednesday letter to the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee punched a huge hole in Democratic claims that progressive groups were targeted as much as the Tea Party groups from May 2010-May 2012, the height of the Tea Party movement.

The letter from the Treasury Department Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed that there just weren't many progressive groups who even sought special tax exempt status. A total of 20 sought it, and six were probed. All 292 Tea Party groups, meanwhile, were part of the IRS witchhunt.

"At this point, the evidence shows us that conservative groups were not only flagged, but targeted and abused by the IRS," said Sarah Swinehart spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee.

"As we gather the facts, we will follow them wherever they lead us. Chairman [Rep. David] Camp encourages all groups, regardless of political affiliation, that feel they may have been targeted to come forward and share their story."

Democrats had noticed that the word "progressives" was on the so-called Be On The Lookout, or BOLO, list. But the Treasury IG suggested that the list wasn't used.

The operative paragraph from the IG letter:

"Based on the information you flagged regarding the existence of a 'Progressives' entry on BOLO lists, TIGTA performed additional research which determined that six tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 having the words 'progress' or 'progressive' in their names were included in the 298 cases the IRS identified as potential political cases. We also determined that 14 tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 using the words 'progress' or 'progressive' in their names were not referred for added scrutiny as potential political cases. In total, 30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words 'progress' or "progressive" in their names were processed as potential political cases. In comparison, our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit."

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.