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June 20, 2016

Legal Filings Show Conservative Groups Got Most IRS Scrutiny

A list of organizations whose applications for nonprofit status were subjected to heightened review by the Internal Revenue Service was dominated by conservative groups, according to NPR, which reviewed a roster of targeted organizations included in recent court filings.

While dozens of progressive and nonpartisan groups were also singled out for scrutiny, 282 of the 426 entities on a list entered into federal-court records by an Ohio Tea Party group that is suing the IRS were right-leaning. Sixty-two had names that included “Tea Party” or “Tea Party Patriots.”

The IRS began taking a closer look at groups seeking 501(c)(4) status after the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which loosened restrictions on political giving, prompted a proliferation of such applications. 501(c)(4) groups are required to devote at least half their resources to nonpolitical "social welfare" causes. IRS officials acknolwedged the targeting in 2013, fueling claims by Congressional Republicans that the agency sought to quash conservative critics of President Obama.

A GOP-controlled House committee voted last week to censure IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for alleged noncooperation with its inqury into the matter and is pursuing impeachment proceedings against him. Senate and FBI investigations attributed the closer IRS scrutiny to mismanagement and errors by agency officials attempting to enforce vague regulations on nonprofit politicking.