The IRS scrutinized small Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status, yet failed
to pursue big-budget political organizations on the left and right that exerted
much greater influence in the 2012 elections.
Untouched were Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity on the right.
Likewise ignored were Priorities USA, consisting of former Obama campaign aides, and American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, led by a former adviser to Sen. Harry Reid.
These organizations spent tens of millions of dollars on TV ads and campaigns for their respective parties.
Yet they claim not to be political campaign organizations, but instead tax-exempt "social welfare" groups allowed to conceal their donors.
"The IRS goes AWOL when wealthy and powerful forces want to break the law in order to hide their wrongful efforts and secret political influence," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
Advocates of election reform are concerned that, following the unfair Tea Party targeting, the IRS will hesitate to scrutinize the bigger, more powerful groups seeking tax exemption.
In the two years since the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" case, the number of applications for 501 (c) (4) tax exemptions has doubled to 3,357, overwhelming IRS personnel.
Howard Hurlbut is an emeritus professor of the University of Redlands and a resident of Redlands.
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