According to Team Obama's "phony scandal" narrative, when the Internal Revenue Service processed 501(c)(3) tax-exemption applications, it equally tormented liberals and conservatives. No big deal, the argument goes. The IRS suffers from even-handed inefficiency rather than an un-American habit of slamming critics of the president of the United States.
Unfortunately for the Obamites, facts annihilate their institutional-incompetence defense. New data deepen the suspicion that the IRS is the latest and most worrisome weapon in the left's arsenal.
Using his authority under Internal Revenue Code Section 6103, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., requested and received data from the IRS on the 298 "political advocacy" groups that the tax agency was subjecting to secondary screening as of May 31, 2012. Committee staffers compared these groups' names against identifiers on the IRS' "Be on the Lookout" list, namely "progressive" and "Tea Party," "Patriot," "9/12" and "conservative." This yielded 111 groups, of which staffers developed a snapshot on their status as of May 31, 2013.
Ways and Means confirmed conservatives' repeated lament: The IRS caresses institutions on the left and hammers those on the right.
Among these 111 targets, only seven were self-described "progressive" groups. The remaining 104 were right-of-center. So, among this sample, the institutions that the IRS placed under a microscope were 6.3 percent liberal and 93.7 percent conservative. That is not quite fair and balanced.
The IRS also scrutinized liberals far more lightly than it did conservatives. Ways and Means found that the IRS asked these leftist groups 4.7 questions, on average, while righties typically faced 14.9 queries -- more than thrice as many. Conservative complain that the IRS inappropriately demanded their donor lists, reports on books they were reading, whether applicants' relatives planned to run for office, and even descriptions of their prayers.
Among the seven liberal groups, IRS authorized 100 percent of their proposals. Among conservatives, it only approved 46 percent.
Consequently, zero liberal groups in this sample await an IRS decision. In contrast, 56 conservative outfits either still wonder if the IRS will accept their submissions or they simply gave up.
When the committee released this information July 30, it did not name the groups it studied. However, the American Center for Law and Justice details how long conservative clubs have watched the IRS sit on their paperwork. ACLJ is suing the IRS on behalf of 41 such entities. Some faced unusually long intervals before their documents were approved (e.g., 30 months for Virginia's Richmond Tea Party and 32 months for Colorado's Four Corners Liberty Restoration Group). Others remain in limbo, amid IRS inaction. Consider, as of Tuesday, a 39-month ongoing wait for Michigan's Unite in Action, 41 months for California's PECAN -- Patriots Educating Concerned Americans Now, and 43 months for New Mexico's Albuquerque Tea Party.
The dogs that have not barked are the liberal groups that may have waited endlessly for IRS rulings or been asked about their contributors, reading material or prayer habits. If, say, Occupy Palm Beach, Americans for Higher Taxes, or Spend It All - NOW! had shared their IRS horror stories, this would be no scandal.
So, where are the IRS' liberal victims? Are they staying mum while this controversy poaches Team Obama in increasingly hot water? Or -- could it be? -- maybe the IRS has no leftist victims, since it barely targeted and never persecuted such groups.
Couple this information with revelations that confidential IRS records illegally got leaked to the Federal Election Commission and apparently to opponents of the National Organization for Marriage and 2010 senatorial nominee Christine O'Donnell, R-Del. A frightful portrait emerges of a thoroughly politicized federal agency that repeatedly abuses its police powers to the benefit of Barack Obama and his comrades on the left and the detriment of their rivals on the right.
This is far from phony and close to authoritarian.
(Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, a Fox News contributor and a media fellow with Stanford University's Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Email Deroy.Murdock@gmail.com. See www.shns.com.)