Some people must think there are no limits to American taxpayer gullibility. This week, the Wall Street Journal reports the Justice Department, prior to concluding its investigation, is signaling that no criminal charges will be filed in the IRS “political targeting” scandal. Unfortunately, the average American taxpayer is not equipped to know whether some ill-intentioned individual or some sinister group within the IRS unlawfully used the power of the agency to inhibit the political freedoms of law-abiding citizens. In the absence of all the facts, citizens have no choice but to rely on their common sense.
It may be, as the Wall Street Journal reports, the FBI investigation “did not uncover (note the choice of words here) the type of political bias or enemy hunting that could constitute a criminal violation. The evidence showed a mismanaged agency enforcing rules it did not understand on applications for tax exemptions.”
It may be the sanctity of America’s political freedoms was bloodied and bruised by the malfeasance of a bunch of clumsy, oafish, mismanaged, ignorant bureaucrats who trampled on the peoples’ fundamental rights by pure, “boy-am-I-red-faced” accident. The fact the tax exempt applications of mostly conservative groups received special restrictive review in the run-up to the 2012 elections may be an “oh-golly-gee” coincidence.
Likewise, the naming of Barbara Bosserman, a known supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, as the administration’s choice to head the Department of Justice investigation into the scandal may be on the up-and-up with no hint of partisan motivation. Some might insist that Bosserrman’s appointment, innocent or not, raises the specter of bias and creates the appearance of impropriety. In response, the Justice Department spokesperson pleads impotence. Inability to consider political activities in deciding who should head a politically charged investigation apparently trumps “appearance of impropriety” issues. As for any suspicions concerning Bosserman’s ability and/or willingness to be impartial — well, taxpayers will just have to “lump it.”
Taxpayers may not know, for certain, whether a crime was committed. But here’s what they do know. Something went dangerously haywire in the IRS. The Treasury Department Inspector General found that the IRS targeted civilian groups based on names and political themes.
If the applicant’s “case file” contained terms like “patriot,” “tea party,” “Israel,” “progressive”; or if the application referred to “government spending,” “government debt,” or “taxes”; if the purpose of the group was to advocate education concerning the Constitution or Bill of Rights; if the group proposed to challenge Obamacare or question the integrity of federal elections; if any of these conditions appeared in the applicant’s paperwork, that paperwork was flagged to run an additional gauntlet of red tape. This red tape noose around the throats of these groups effectively silenced them in the run-up to the 2012 election.
According to the Inspector General, 292 conservative groups came under IRS attention while, during the same period, only six liberal groups received that review. This constitutes 100 percent of the conservative applicants and 30 percent of the liberal groups applying for tax-exempt status. The numbers do not lie. So how are taxpayers expected to process the statistics? No matter what their common sense tells them, the FBI seems poised to dismiss the possibility of unlawful political bias or enemy hunting. The Department of Justice seems totally unafraid that the gullibility of the American taxpayer may be reaching its limit.
The docile American taxpayer seems content to forget that the administration erected a protective barrier between the public and the truth regarding those responsible for the “fast and furious” program, which provided weapons to drug-dealing assassins and contributed to the death of federal agent Brian Terry.
Taxpayer fury concerning the gross mishandling of security in Benghazi and the lies told in the aftermath of the murder of four brave Americans seems to be tapering off. To date, a veil of secrecy remains in place concerning what actually happened that night and who was responsible. There is no aggressive widespread outcry to lift that veil.
Taxpayer outrage over government spying on respected journalists never gathered much momentum. The Attorney General may have committed perjury regarding his knowledge of these activities but that’s all quieted down.
This seems to be the main administration strategy for dealing with taxpayer outrage: Say whatever is expedient in a crisis without regard to the truth. Vow to “get to the bottom of it” and hold those responsible, “accountable.” Weather the storm. Shield the culprits. Keep up the dodge until the dust settles. The taxpayers won’t stay mad long and they’ll believe almost anything. Ultimately, they’ll mistrust their own common sense. I wonder if they’re right. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.
MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.