Internal Revenue Service managers and workers involved in the Obama administration’s targeting of conservative groups were engaged in criminal activity and should face charges, according to one of the affected organizations.
“We believe the IRS has been involved in criminal activity,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association. “When a government office abuses its power to access personal financial records, then uses that information as a tool for revenge, we have reached a new low in American politics.”
AFA called Tuesday for charges to be filed against all of those involved in the policy to which the IRS admitted: discriminating against conservative groups that challenged the current administration’s policies.
AFA has been the subject of IRS audits, Wildmon said. But resignations and other such hand-slapping won’t suffice, the AFA statement said.
“In a country where freedom of belief is a foundation, this unfair and unlawful targeting of groups who ‘swim upstream’ from the rest of the pool should be taken extremely seriously,” Wildmon said. “I would certainly venture to say that if any of these conservative organizations stepped out of line in any way – perceived or actual – action would be swift and powerful.”
Further, Wildmon noted there may be evidence that Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., ordered the IRS to harass Crossroads GPS and other conservative organizations.
In October 2010, a press release and letter on Durbin’s website urged the IRS to “quickly investigate the tax status of Crossroads GPS and other organizations that are directing millions of dollars into political advertising without disclosing their funding sources.”
Crossroads GPS, created in June 2010, is affiliated with American Crossroads. Both groups advertise during political campaigns.
“AFA sees the recent IRS scandal as a way to get back at organizations that support politicians who go against the current administration’s ideals and policies,” AFA said in a prepared statement, noting President Obama has said he had no knowledge of the IRS practices.
Other similar charitable groups, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Samaritan’s Purse, the National Organization for Marriage, Family Talk and many others were targeted because of their political beliefs, AFA explained. Its own audits occurred just within the last two years.
AFA said there’s a good foundation of evidence already.
In addition to a report from a government inspector general, a report from Republican lawmakers also found that agents targeted tea party groups and that the activity has been going on since 2010.
AFA today is one of the largest pro-family groups in the country with more than 2 million online supporters. It runs nearly 200 radio stations across the nation under the American Family Radio banner.
Even as the call came for criminal counts to be filed, the U.S. Senate was accusing IRS officials of a “lie by omission” for not bringing out details about the targeting program as soon as they found out.
The criticism was bipartisan, with Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., accusing the IRS of a “culture of indifference to the American people.”
ABC also reported today that the next step won’t be far behind: lawsuits against the government over the orchestrated program of discrimination.
Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, told the network that work already has begun on a lawsuit on behalf of many of the groups targeted by the IRS.
"It's the next logical step," he said. "The admission and apology by the IRS that the criteria used was not correct and inappropriate" is grounds for action.
ACLJ represents dozens of tea party groups that describe being unfairly targeted by the IRS.
The ACLJ said its action is developing against the Department of Treasury and the IRS.
The Daily Caller also reported that the IRS demanded of the conservative Leadership Institute the names of its 2008 interns, what they did, where they did their work and, significantly, where they were working during the 2012 campaign.
According to the report, the Arlington, Va.-based group is a conservative activist training organization. It was told by the IRS to provide copies "of applications for internships and summer programs; to include: lists of those selected for internships and students in 2008."
Also demanded was "information regarding where the interns physically worked and how the placement was arranged" and "where were the students and interns employed."
The Washington Examiner also reported the IRS went after an 83-year-old great-grandmother who once was held in a World War II internment camp.
"It doesn't surprise me … because of this government we have at the moment," said Marianne Chiffelle in an interview with the New Mexico Watchdog.
Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan White House political director, wrote at the American Spectator that the links from the IRS scandal to Obama are getting shorter.
He noted that the White House visitors log records that Colleen Kelley, the chief of the "anti-tea party" National Treasury Employees Union, was at the White House on March 31.
"The very next day after her White House meeting with the president, according to the Treasury Department's Inspector General's Report, IRS employees – the same employees who belong to the NTEU – set to work in earnest targeting the tea party and conservative groups around America," his report said.
"In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union – the union for IRS employees – met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS 'Determinations Unit Program agreed' to open a 'Sensitive Case report on the tea party cases.'"
The political action arm of the union that supported Obama in both 2008 and 2012, Lord noted, also gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to anti-tea party candidates.
"Putting IRS employees in the position of actively financing anti-tea party candidates themselves, while in their official positions in the IRS blocking, auditing, or intimidating tea party and conservative groups around the country," the report said.