I come to bury this lede, not to praise it

Good ol’ Fox News. They posted an article with the following headline last week:

IRS scruitny went beyond Tea Party, targeting conservative groups broader than thought

Now, don’t get me wrong. Targeting one particular brand of political beliefs for tax scrutiny is odious. However, it seems to me that the most interesting part of the whole article is this little nugget near the end:

“By early 2012, the criteria were updated to include organizations involved in “limiting/expanding government,” education on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and social economic reform. “

Now, that’s fascinating. The IRS is targeting conservative groups that seek the expansion of government and social economic reform? Or…is the IRS investing groups that are seeking tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(4) despite being a primarily political organization which, as we all know, would be illegal? A 501(c)(4)s are “civic leagues, social welfare organizations, and local associations of employees.” Their net earnings are supposed to be used for charitable, educational, or recreational purposes. They may lobby and participate in political activities but their primary purpose must not be campaigning.

Like I said, I am adamantly against using the IRS as a tool of political intimidation against one strain of thought or another. That, however, is not what Fox News is reporting. Unless I’m reading it incorrectly, Fox is reporting that the IRS was asking for additional information about apparently-political organizations seeking a tax status reserved for non-political groups. I’m assuming, of course, that Fox’s reporting is accurate and why on earth would I ever doubt that?

Now, it may turn out that conservatives were being uniquely singled-out and, in that case, heads should roll. You can pretend I mean that figuratively if that gives you comfort. But if it turns out that the IRS were attempting to do their job and not doing so in a partisan fashion? Then I’m not sure where the scandal is.

Finally, a serious question: How would one go about investigating political groups for possible violations of tax law without the investigation seeming to be politically-motivated?

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