The top Democrats on two House panels investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s inappropriate targeting of conservative groups say they have new evidence showing the agency also gave liberal groups extra scrutiny.
Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin of Michigan on Tuesday made public previously redacted IRS training documents showing that agency employees were instructed to screen tax-exemption applications for Democratic-leaning “emerge” organizations alongside “progressive” and conservative “Tea Party” groups.
Three organizations tied to the national Emerge America organization — Emerge Nevada, Emerge Maine and Emerge Massachusetts — all were denied tax-exempt status, a New York Times report says.
The documents also include more un-redacted information on “be on the look out” [BOLO] lists showing that IRS screeners were instructed to give heightened scrutiny to liberal leaning “ACORN successor” organizations. The IRS since has eliminated the use of the BOLO lists.
Levin and Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had requested the documents.
“These new documents make it clear the IRS scrutiny of the political activity of 501(c)(4) [nonprofit] organizations covered a broad spectrum of political ideology and was not politically motivated,” Levin said.
Cummings said the new information should “put a nail in the coffin of the Republican claims that the IRS’s actions were politically motivated or were targeted at only one side of the political spectrum.”
“It is time for House Republicans to stop trying to score political points and start to focus on reforming the IRS,” Cummings said.
The IRS in May admitted some of its auditors in its Cincinnati office inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews to check if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency, which has apologized, later said it also singled out some liberal groups.
The IRS’s independent government watchdog says the agency used “inappropriate criteria” and blamed “ineffective management” when reviewing applications from Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status.