While the ever-growing IRS scandal has many facets, at the end of the day the most troubling aspect of the revelations is that American citizens were targeted by a government agency for their political beliefs.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama forced the resignation of acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller.
Earlier in the week, Miller admitted mistakes were made but denied they were motivated by political considerations. This is laughable and immediately raises the question as to why the focus seemed to be only on conservative groups seeking tax exempt status.
Applications for tax exempt status with the words “Tea Party,” ”Patriots,” ”Constitution” or “Bill of Rights” were targeted.
Perhaps the agents guilty of this targeting should review the Bill of Rights, in particular the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of speech for all American citizens.
The pattern described by targeted groups included requests for daunting amounts of information about their organization, including membership lists and in some cases what members of Congress they were in contact with. Many groups then waited months or even years to hear back on their applications.
This is just insane. Is there something suspicious about Americans contacting those who represent them in a government “of the people, by the people, for the people?”
The actions by some IRS personnel amount to nothing less than a violation of the civil rights of members of these conservative groups, a criminal offense.
To put this in perspective, Article 2 of President Nixon’s impeachment accused him of attempting to misuse the IRS for political purposes. This is serious business.
Because of the IRS’s great power and wide reach, any suggestion that this agency is acting in anything other than a neutral or even-handed way gives Americans chills.
In all fairness, most IRS employees are hardworking people who endeavor to do things right. Those who crossed the line have done a great disservice to those who do things the right way.
Because we have a tax system that depends on voluntary compliance, it is essential that Americans view those charged with enforcing our tax laws as fair. Otherwise, the wheels fly off.
The final chapter of this political targeting has yet to be written. Congress has much work to do.
At the end of the day, anyone inside or outside the agency who engaged in or encouraged the targeting of Americans for their political beliefs must be held fully accountable.
— Distributed by The Associated Press