Invasive or appropriate? 20 questions the IRS asked conservative groups

Published: Thursday, May 16 2013 7:12 a.m. MDT

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Associated Press
"Provide a copy of the presentation (To Challenge the Imagination of the Rising Generation) given to Vanderbilt College Republicans by your director"

- Document from Linchpins of Liberty in Franklin, Tenn.

>> With the Capitol in the background, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey addresses a Tea Party rally at Freedom Plaza in Washington, Thursday, April 15, 2010.
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I know it. I Live it. I Love it.
Salt Lake City, UT

I'm sorry to sound so critical of the Deseret News, but I want to point out a few things that may help effect a change.

Why wasn't this story published when it the rest of the world was paying attention?

Why does searching "IRS Conservative" on the Deseret News search not pull up this article? (Albeit, that search never works for me.)

I'm just saying that these things could be improved.

It also seems that the Deseret News has a limited focus on which articles to jump on. Any tech news I pretty much never find on the D.N. and national political news seems like it's a hit and miss, among other things.

What's going on? I hate to sound critical as I trust the D.N. as a respectable news source, but other news sources seem to cover more broadly and more promptly... what's going on?

Burke Olsen, DeseretNews.com
Salt Lake City, UT

@I know it. I Live it. I Love it.

Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and ask meaningful questions. I will share a few thoughts here, but please feel free to call me at 801-237-2112 if you'd like additional perspective.

As the newspaper industry continues its decline, the Deseret News is thriving. Part of our success comes from our decision to narrow our editorial focus. We can't compete with sites that report only tech news. We're not attempting to compete with the Washington Post on national political coverage. But we are setting the standard for our coverage of the family.

In addition to our coverage of Utah news and sports, we focus on six areas of emphasis.

The family
Faith in the community
Excellence in Education
Values in the media
Financial responsibility
Care for the poor

This necessarily limits our coverage of some news stories that are being reported well by other news organizations. I believe that the Deseret News will remain vital and viable because of this focus.

I hope that helps you understand our strategy.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

Burke Olsen
Content Director, DeseretNews.com

Sandy, UT

Just a thought:

A lot of people are up in arms about questions like this being asked of conservative organizations. But would they have such qualms about these questions being asked of liberal groups? Of fundamentalist christian churches? Of Islamic charities? Of the FLDS?

The law is that there are limitations on the political activities of nonprofits. Those limits are there for good reasons....but they do need to be applied and enforced uniformly.

Buckeye, AZ

"Inappropriate"?!?! These questions are practically illegal!

As I understood it, IRS's role is to ensure that taxes are being paid... what does political issues have to do with money? Oh wait, freedom loving conservatives have greener money that smell better to the IRS than the liberals who think everyone else's money is theirs and wipe their bills brown... no wonder the IRS doesn't go after THEM.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

Maybe the IRS should start sending letters to the State Department and the White House. Tell them that they'll be audited unless they release all of their records. Give names of their donors and list what books they read, release their medical information, threaten felonies and purgery for not producing all documentation.

Funny how groups of people were discriminated based on their political ideology, yet we can't put pressure on the very people that serve us and are supposed to be upright, honest and transparent. Funny how barack fears little tea party groups. But has no problem watching Americans get slaughtered and instead goes to bed when he hears what's happening. Yep the same president that made the very gutsy call to kill osama. Remember that? How he planned the assault, planned the extra backup helicopters even though military planners didn't think of that, remember how he spiked the football?

The same president that read miranda rights to a terroist in Boston that slaughtered innocent people and smiled doing it. Who left a written note, stating that this was in retalitation for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. That makes him an enemy combatant. He was at war.

USS Enterprise, UT

To "SAS" there are 2 problems here. First is the fact that they are even asking this type of question. I don't care what the political persuasion is of the group, the questions are wrong. THe other problem is that they have targeted conservative groups. This is tyranny from government.

To "azgal" political issues are important here because depending on the type of charitable organization, you may or may not be allowed to engage in politics. For example, if a charity is set up to distribute food to the poor, but ends up engaging in political activities then it is breaking the law and will lose its tax exempt status.

Mom of Seven
West Valley City, UT

The Federal Government broke the very law they have sworn to uphold. Why is no one going to jail?

Santa Monica, CA

Thank you to our wonderful President for getting out in front on this. As a lifelong Big D democrat I don't care how insane and out of touch the Tea Party and other right wing fanatical groups are--they deserve equal justice under law. Thank heavens we now have a president who understands that. A breath of fresh air.

Salt Lake City, UT

Here's a different question... what sort of questions should the IRS be asking when determining if a group should get tax exempt status? None of these conservative groups ended up failing to get their tax exempt status in the end.

West Haven, Utah

Actually, that's not quite true, atl134. Several conservative organizations applying for tax exempt status withdrew their applications - after nearly 2.5 years of scrutiny! Obviously, there was a problem here. Equal treatment did not occur. On the first of the 21 screens this article contains, you'll see a sentence that reads '...no other tea party group applications were cleared for 27 months, USA Today reported. At the same time, the paper said, "groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months."' 27 months vs 9 months, all occurring just before the November 2012 election. You've got to admit, atl134, this is a problem. If the roles were reversed, Democrats would be up in arms about it - rightfully so - particularly if they'd LOST the November 2012 Presidential elections!

Flower Mound, TX

These questions are very inappropriate and designed to create fear and intimidation and to take away individual rights to believe as we will. This is the beginning of communism and we must not put up with it.

Centerville, UT


"Thank you to our wonderful President for getting out in front on this."

This is just the first week of this scandal. Our President may also be behind this as well.

Ex Pat
Salt Lake City, Ut

And he let a man go who was out in June anyway! I guess he didn't think the press would let that out.
He promoted the woman -Ingram- who presided over the IRS debacle and she will now preside over the enforcement of 0bamacare!.
So don't tell me he is out in front of this. Just like Benghazi, no one lost their job, no one was reprimanded, just like Fast & Furious, people were reassigned.
President's half brother got his approved, in short order. No one can find out what exactly he does besides raise money.
Of course all those applying should be questioned, but when you are threatened and told you had better respond or else.
It's frightening that IRS will be the enforcer for 0bama care!

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

They could have simplified the questions greatly:

Are you a Republican or Republican leaning group? (Answering Yes will result in the denial of your request.)
Are you a Democrat or Democrat leaning group? (Answering Yes will result in automatic approval.)

A Guy With A Brain
Enid, OK

Question number 1 from the list of 20: "Provide a list of all issues that are important to your organization. Indicate your position regarding each issue."

What the ____ does THAT have to do with paying taxes???

If this had occured under Bush's watch every single media outlet on the left (about 90% of the entire media) would have been going ballistic!

Under Obama's administration?

Hardly a peep.

Fast and Furious?, with the death of an American border patrol agent. Hardly a peep.

Benghazi?, with the death of FOUR Americans. Hardly a peep.

The IRS bullying conservative groups? Hardly a peep.

How long, Lord, how long?...

Provo, UT

I have a close personal acquaintance who has been very successful in business. He made a contribution to Mitt Romney's campaign in 2011. For the only time in 30 years his tax statement were audited. He came out perfectly legal and clean in the audit which it appears was nothing but IRS harassment for contributing to a GOP candidate who opposed the IRS's desired candidate. Simple common sense conclusion based on what we now know of the IRS highly illegal harassment techniques.

Pheonix, AZ

@Mom of Seven:
"Why is no one going to jail?"

Because the people in charge of sending someone to jail (Eric Holder and his cohorts) are the same people and friends of the same people who broke the laws.

Kaysville, UT

An Inspector General process is not a secret process but is considered confidential. However, was the report generated by the Inspector General during an overall review or was it from a complainant that highlighted a problem? If a complaint is submitted, as anonymous, some IGs don't do anything with that in some agencies as they justify a non-action. However, I have not seen why this IG report was generated.

Normally, the people in the chain-of-command know of a problem if it is significant as the IG does not want it to continue or pick up a negative vibration from the people he is responsible for. The IG positions are political positions, no matter if it is classified in the personnel system or not.

The IG does not want to upset the normal boat of the agency they represent. Very few go on the line and show their real concerns. It can take years for them to come up with resolution if the agency doesn't want to deal with it.

There are really no un-biased IGs, no matter what government agency. They are appointed for a certain reason and it is because of their brotherhood of the system.

Joan Watson

In ones opinion? These scandals will fade out of sight, out of mind - becoming Pres Obama's forgotten "bumps in the road." Tactical plots and schemes hidden away to be used another day.

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