A new report from House Republicans sheds more light on the early stages of tea-party targeting by the Internal Revenue Service, identifying the first three cases sent to Washington for special review in 2010.
The report also underscores the difficulties the targeted groups faced. Two of the three dropped their applications in the face of IRS questioning, the report shows. A third is waiting for a resolution of its case, a spokesman said.
The GOP report, the latest salvo in a protracted political battle in Washington, is aimed at refuting Democrats' argument that liberal groups also were targeted by the IRS over recent years. The report by aides to Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, emphasizes that the targeting began as an IRS inquiry solely into tea-party groups. It also contends that subsequent efforts by IRS officials to make the review more neutral were little more than cosmetic changes, and the basic focus on conservative grassroots groups remained.
Although IRS documents showed the agency also was on the lookout for applications by some liberal-leaning groups, "only Tea Party applicants received systematic scrutiny because of their political beliefs," the new report says. In addition, "public and nonpublic analyses of IRS data show that the IRS routinely approved liberal applications while holding and scrutinizing conservative applications."
In a statement, the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) said:
"Chairman Issa has in his possession - right now - IRS documents that show definitively that both progressive and conservative groups were highlighted for scrutiny."
The 'test' cases sent to Washington included the Prescott (Ariz.) Tea Party, the American Junto in Cincinnati and the Albuquerque Tea Party, according to the new report.