A scandal ... and a rare opportunity
July 13, 2013 | By Morton Blackwell
With smart and effective graduates like you, it’s no wonder that the left hates the Leadership Institute.
You may have seen your Institute’s name in the Wall Street Journal or on Fox News this summer. As a grad, you’ll recall LI does not seek media attention as a general rule. But the largest and latest scandal that threatens to derail the Obama administration has LI at the center of it.
How could I say no?
I refer to the scandal of deliberate IRS targeting and interminable blocking of conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status -- which has by no means run its course. Instead, it’s given way to a second, unfolding scandal.
Ordinarily, information about abuses in IRS auditing practices is a deep, dark secret. Targets choose to suffer in silence for fear that an IRS audit will scare away some of their donors or that publicly complaining would cause the IRS to persecute their organizations even more.
Those calling the shots at the IRS believed there was no chance at all that they would ever be held accountable for specially targeting conservative groups.
But a groundswell of conservative complaints and considerable new information has led Congressmen Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan to ask Treasury Department Inspector General J. Russell George to “conduct an investigation to determine whether groups that possess tax-exempt status were targeted for audits or examinations based on their political beliefs or ideology.”
Your Institute is one such targeted group.
The timing of the audit of LI coincided with the period for which the IRS stonewalled applications by new conservative groups for tax-exempt status. During this period, the IRS office in Cincinnati asked an applicant, the Hawaii Tea Party, about its relations with LI. The IRS Baltimore office was conducting the audit of LI -- a sign of coordination between the IRS offices, not just a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati.
This should be big news. IRS targeting of existing groups for audits is a second can of worms to be opened.
It's one thing to try to kill nascent conservative groups; it's quite another and even more serious thing to persecute existing conservative groups which already have tax-exempt status. No one at the IRS could be sure whether or not a brand new group might be effective, but it's very easy for them to target existing groups which have already proven their effectiveness -- like your Institute.
Surely congressional investigators will dig up more facts about these abusive practices.
Soon there may be public-spirited whistleblowers inside the executive branch willing to expose abusive conduct, including information about who ordered those abuses and who knew about those abuses but took no steps to stop the illegal practices.
Some guilty people may decide to confess and implicate others in order to reduce the criminal charges they know they are about to face.
This is certain: if no one at the IRS is fired, fined, or jailed for the persecution of conservatives that has already become public knowledge, the guilty people there will conclude that they can continue their abuses with impunity.
You and I must not allow that to happen.
Please thank Congressmen Issa and Jordan for continuing their investigations into the IRS scandal. Please contact me or my staff if you or your conservative organization were asked about a relationship to the Leadership Institute.
Let's keep building our case.
Guilty people may actually be held accountable for abuses of power by the IRS. That's a rare and precious opportunity.