Journalism in the Public Interest

IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups

The IRS’s Cincinnati office last year sent ProPublica the unapproved applications for several conservative groups.

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Mike Hihn

May 14, 2013, 4:48 p.m.

The phrasing here is WAY too sloppy.  501(c)4s CAN spend money on politics. but only issues not candidates.

For example, a pro-life or pro-choice organization might run ads listing the candidates who support their positions.  Free speech allows them to promote their positions on issues.

And “social welfare” is defined like “for the good (welfare) of society.  Issues.


May 14, 2013, 5 p.m.

This is the perfect time when old LAW processing politicking-machine can get needed overhauling before going into full swing of positively world changing mission based on honesty and digitally secured transparency.
Must know -BOJB, The Sun’s shining above the cloud always on one hemisphere! It’s up to US to take advantage of time or miss the chance.  (No worry! For CC things are on the right track.)


May 14, 2013, 5:12 p.m.

Personally, this disclosure of my tax info would not have bothered me one bit since I obey the tax code rules. Frankly, a little sunlight on some of these shadowy groups can only help democracy. The entire tax code needs a re-do immediately and these groups 501C-4 need to be outlawed.


May 14, 2013, 5:23 p.m.

What work has ProPublica done following the money behind the pre-election list-building exercise called Occupy whatever, aka


May 14, 2013, 5:27 p.m.

Thank you, ProPublica.  One of the few things I used to respect about some on the left was some sort of intellectual honesty and consistency which seems to have gotten lost as liberals lost their mind during the Bush administration (becoming the new Black Helicoptor crowd).  This story is scary!  I keep trying to tell my liberal friends; be careful what kind of government you build, someday Dick Cheney or some other bogey-man of the left will win an election and have that power.  Wake up, liberals!  Just because you like what your all-powerful government is doing now, doesn’t mean you always will.

Stephanie Palmer

May 14, 2013, 5:29 p.m.

Non profit, my foot.  Dick Armey walked away with how many millions of dollars?

Lou Charles

May 14, 2013, 5:43 p.m.

Your tax exempt status should be revoked since you are an arm of the DNC. You are typical elitists who think you must rat out the unwashed who opposed progressives who are the elite and know what is best for all.

Baylee in San Francisco

May 14, 2013, 5:46 p.m.

GOD, ProPublica is disgustingly biased! 

What is with the modern left wing/“liberal”/“progressive” and the desire to have completely biased, one-sided media?  Disgusting and revolting!

Jonah Kyle

May 14, 2013, 6:05 p.m.


You miss the point entirely. While administrations may have agendas and, to a certain degree, the extension of their agenda may be apparent in their selection of cabinet heads, the absolute magnitude of the blatantly one-sided enforcement and threats of criminal prosecution based upon a political party has NEVER been a part of ANY previous administration, Democratic or Republican. Coupled with the fact that the IRS’ actions have suppressed the activities of only ONE side…conservative / libertarian groups… automatically creates a smoking gun that can ONLY be logically controlled by the people at the top is endemic.

And ProPublica KNEW that they received illegally-obtained information. If information of any group, targeted or not, that ProPublica reports on is not confidential, then it is fair game, but ALL applications through the IRS during the application process is CONFIDENTIAL. That makes ProPublica’s position liable, as ANY news organization would be liable. Any ethical news organization verifies legality. News organizations that are more fronts for liberal agendas may have other ideas.

Catherine Tripp

May 14, 2013, 6:27 p.m.

Could we please stop using “conservative” to describe tax-dodging anti-government PACs?  The Tea Party name gives some indication as to whether they advocate the PAYING OF INCOME TAX.  Honestly, there is nothing conservative about Glen Beck or the Tea Party.

John Burke

May 14, 2013, 6:30 p.m.

Pro Publico’s stated mission is “[to] expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government…”

If it were serious about that mission, it would have blown the whistle on the IRS’s illegal disclosure of unapproved applications, rather than using information from those applications as more grist for its mill grinding out criticism of conservatives and Republicans.

It’s hard to think of a worse abuse of the police power of the state than discriminatory application of tax laws. Apparently, Pro Publica failed to notice this abuse until others forced the IRS to admit it.

Watch Man

May 14, 2013, 6:33 p.m.

Stunning that the left wing Pro"publica” was party to this outrage!  Not really.  Propublica is about as left as they come, yet they engage in the delusion (or is it willful illusion?) of “nonpartisanship”.

High time the skirt is lifted from the nannies at PP!

Carola Von H.

May 14, 2013, 7:41 p.m.

Despite some differences of opinion, I generally think ProPublica does good and necessary work. But I’m disturbed that you ran with this material and only now are aknowledging the creepiness of the source. It smacks of butt cover.

Chris Mahoney

May 14, 2013, 7:56 p.m.

I feel better now knowing that the IRS freely hands out confidential documents to leftwing advocacy groups.

LaWanda Domeshek

May 14, 2013, 8:20 p.m.

ProPublica is funded by George Soros, and Herb Sandler and wife.
Per Rush Limbaugh.  They are liberal peole.

Steve Satterwhite

May 14, 2013, 10:39 p.m.

You girls only print the news that’s LEFT to print.

John Brown

May 14, 2013, 11:02 p.m.

Clearly just another facet of the massive criminal conspiracy to harrass, delay, and damage any group that could be deemed to be conservative or opposed to any Obama policy initiative.  This is clearly the biggest illegal abuse of Governmental power since the Nixon/Watergate era.  There is now way a few clerks at the IRS decided to commit felonies to damage Obama’s political opposition on their own initiative.  This too a lot of coordination, planning, and direction at a very high level.  I doubt…just doubt that Obama knew, but then Nixon didn’t actually know about the Watergate breakin either.


May 15, 2013, 12:31 a.m.

When is Congress going to end all this crap, recognize that no matter what they do the political world will figure out a way around them and just allow political contributions of whatever amounts donors want to give. The purpose of a political contribution is to enable the exercise of the First Amendment—free speech. Both the Nazi collaborator George Soros and David Koch and his brothers have the right to do with their money what they please.

Jilli Brown

May 15, 2013, 12:34 a.m.

So…the folks complaining are all ok with subsidizing these 501c5 groups?  They’re tax exempt status puts the burden on all other tax payers.  Personally, I think they should all be investigated.  There’s very little social welfare activity and a whole lot of political activity.  That’s not what was intended.  It’s wrong and the groups should be scrutinized.


May 15, 2013, 1:16 a.m.

Jilli Brown, I agree with you post.

I have been reading ProPublica since they were formed. For the most part they have done some remarkable investigative journalism. I appreciated their efforts.

Where they have failed their readers was to assume that most were Obama supporters or liberals. Wrong.

Pro decided to take the gravy spoon fed from the IRS and go with it. The decision was wrong.

Good investigative journalism in my opinion is not driven by a political agenda or ones personal ideology. ProPublica is guilty, guilty of driving their reporting from their own ideology and that of Obama.

This is sad.


May 15, 2013, 1:45 a.m.

As Israel said:

“So propublica knew months ago that the irs had violated the law and the privacy of applicants. For some reason that little fact wasnt newsworthy?”

Louis Pasteur

May 15, 2013, 7:11 a.m.

The IRS has a unit working at CDC in Atlanta….why? Seemed odd when I casually heard, now has me wondering why?

Guy from Nj

May 15, 2013, 7:21 a.m.

The canned liberal response seems to be feigned indignation and haphazard citing to individual instances of review of a few liberal organizations back in 04.  However, this appeared to be a systematic policy of scrutiny given a an entire universe of applicants, not merely pulling one or two out of the pile.  This is corruption at its core and there is absolutely no way someone in the White House did not act in complicity with this.  We already have citations of poison letters penned by Schumer and his ilk to the IRS requesting that the IRS scrutinize tea party organizations.  This is a disgusting example of leftist McCarthyism and the liberals will pay at the polling place for their arrogance.

Guy also from NJ

May 15, 2013, 7:23 a.m.

The canned liberal response seems to be feigned indignation and haphazard citing to individual instances of review of a few liberal organizations back in 04.  However, this appeared to be a systematic policy of scrutiny given a an entire universe of applicants, not merely pulling one or two out of the pile.  This is corruption at its core and there is absolutely no way someone in the White House did not act in complicity with this.  We already have citations of poison letters penned by Schumer and his ilk to the IRS requesting that the IRS scrutinize tea party organizations.  This is a disgusting example of leftist McCarthyism and the liberals will pay at the polling place for their arrogance.

Benghazi is one thing, tapping AP phones is another, but this is vehemently unAmerican.  And blatantly a disgusting display of untempered power.


May 15, 2013, 7:31 a.m.

I can hear the mice running in their little exercise bikes in the liberals heads right now.  They’re going to blame Citizens United and put a pox on all private advocacy groups because of this, put aside the fact that only the conservative variety were targeted by Kommisar Obama’s I.R.S.

This, my friends is what happens when a single party is given unfettered reign by a complicit, feckless media.  They’re probably compiling a list of IP addresses of all the adverse commenters on here as we speak to the FBI claiming we’re all anti-government zealots.


May 15, 2013, 10:58 a.m.

Where is the follow up story on the POTUS half brother’s charity that breezed through this application process in a month?


That is a very correct and astute point. At the beginning this organisation, and the comment section was reasonable and non partisan. About the time they hired Marian Wang, they started pushing into agenda driven stories favoring a ‘Left’ influence.

ProPublica recently won a bunch of industry recognition for impeccable journalism. While yes they did report that they were in possession of illegally released papers from the IRS, they then chose to legal disagree in a way that allowed them to capture value for their perceived left leaning audience.


The proper story would have been changing direction of the partisan to piece to a not partisan investigation of loose handling of information by the IRS and why they would release these sorts of things in violation fo their own policies.

Oops again.

All those shiny awards for pure, ethical, investigative journalism must sure look hollow. I mean if you could see them through all the egg that they are now covered in.

Doctor GOP53

May 15, 2013, 11:48 a.m.

“ProPublica is an independent, non-profit newsroom…”
Independent?  With your funding sources, a la George Soros? 

The implication of “independent” on your home page is that you are non-biased…and nothing could be further from the truth. Your involvement with the IRS scandal says volumes about your true bent.
“Journalism in the Public Interest”?  A more accurate slogan for you would be “Journalism in the Interest of Certain Segments of the Public”.

At least be honest about your journalistic bias, eh?


May 15, 2013, 1:36 p.m.

I can never believe a word that B.O. says. I gave the pres that nickname cuz he stinks and always lies. Must have been from being in politics all of his life. No other jobs that I know of.
It must be something that happens when people elected get to DC and start getting lobbyists money, and learn how to move your lips and say nothing at all or only tell lies.
We as a country are failing. We were the greatest country in the world and now we are being questioned even by it’s own people.
Oops, I hope I don’t get audited…
JB Cincinnati

Dianna Jackson

May 16, 2013, 9:46 a.m.

Before reading the comments, I thought, “I’m going to read these comments because they will be thoughtful rather than poisonous and hateful like the one on Politico”.  Boy, was I surprised.

ProPublica…I am of the opinion that you do good work.  Keep it up and don’t be discouraged by the feedback here.  As you probably realize, most of the people commenting have had too much kool-aid to drink.

Look folks, we are in this together and I really don’t understand your vitriol.  Why do you make such outlandish comments about things you know very little about?  The commonality of the hateful comments lead me to believe that you all drink water from the same trough…right wing talk radio and Fox.  Soros, Gates etc. 

Additionally, it seems to me that there are many unanswered questions here.  Why are you coming unglued when the facts are yet to be discovered?  You act as though you don’t want the facts because they might not comport with your views.

Citizens United opened up this mess by allowing massive amounts of money into the system.  Doesn’t it bother you that our representatives are bought off by special interests today?  No matter what side of political divide you are on, doesn’t that concern you?  Doesn’t it bother you that the rich of the country want to hide, keep from public the knowledge of who they are paying off? 

To the extent that ProPublica works to shine a light on the shadowy underpinning of the secret world of many things such as Dr’s being paid by big pharma, or the sheetrock from China problem…the list goes on…why does that alarm you all so much?  I just don’t get it.

Keep up the good work ProPublica…we need you more than ever.


May 16, 2013, 5:13 p.m.

“Jounalism in the Public Interest”  If the public interest involves a progressive agenda, lobbying for bigger government, carrying President Obama’s water, demonizing anyone who does not agree with you, and generally pushing an agenda that undermines our Constitution.


May 16, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

I would very much like to see Pro Publica investigate how much all these dark money groups of both political persuasions being given tax exemptions, costs US taxpayers.


May 17, 2013, 3:24 a.m.

Hmmm…. ProPublica illegally received documents from the IRS.

Let’s talk about the Catholic group the IRS investigated at the instigation of Mr. Soros - you know, the Mr. Soros idolized by the left, the man who collaborated with the Nazis in stealing Jewish assets.

Amazing how the left is really interested in tracking alleged misbehavior by conservative groups while ignoring the egregious violations of human rights by fellow leftists.

We can talk about the spying on the AP, the mess in Benghazi, or even Mr. Obama’s schock that the Turkish government is more interested in the welfare of the Turkish people than in Mr. Obama’s friendship with Israel and alleged “peace process” with the Palestinians.


May 17, 2013, 3:25 a.m.

How about ACORN and MoveOn,org?

Let’s discuss those “dark money” groups.

John Harding

May 17, 2013, 8:09 a.m.

“Contrary to a number of the comments here, but as indicated in the article, ProPublica DID publish, in December and again in January, the fact that applications had been sent to us when they should not have been, and that both the IRS itself and some of the groups involved asserted that this disclosure had been illegal.”—Dick Tofel

“Aw, it’s so cute how a bunch of people show up for one article without context and fill in the entire history without, say, reading.  Or understanding the relevant laws, for that matter.  Just react.  It’s only the Internet…”—John

Reading comprehension is not a strong point with “conservatives.”


May 17, 2013, 2:02 p.m.

Looks like it’s time for some Government house cleaning, before the rats take it over completely.


May 17, 2013, 4:12 p.m.

I will point out that politicians on both sides can benefit from diminishing the IRS powers in this regard.  If the outcome is that more money flows from undisclosed sources into the political process then I’ll have to admit that politicians apparently are smarter than the general public and they should be empowered to treat us like the idiots that we must be.

Choose your wool but remember it’s your eyes that are being covered.

Ann Bakita

May 18, 2013, 10:59 a.m.

I just watched a Google Hangout on YouTube where ProPolitico reporters were discussing how they obtained the [illegal] IRS documents. I think your reporter needs jail time. Also revealed in the Hangout were comments by the same offending reporter explaining how groups with the name Obama in them did not need to be investigated “because we already know the people there.” The reporter tells a Columbia Journalism student to talk to him after the Hangout concludes to get his IRS contact information of who he calls to get the [illegal] documents. ProPolitico is disgusting.

Louis Toadvine

May 20, 2013, 11:17 a.m.

ProPublica, administration stooge.

Tony Patterson

May 21, 2013, 5:30 p.m.

Mr. Tofel’s editorial

“The uproar over the IRS scandal last week reinforces the point that much of the heat is just the latest expression of Washington cynicism and its consequences—that the talk show hosts and their fellow travelers, and the representatives and senators and officials in the executive branch, aren’t really looking for answers here. They’re just putting on a show.”

is not in any way argued or supported by the article in question


May 21, 2013, 6:07 p.m.

I’d like to hear about how it is problematic when Messrs. Bloomberg and Soros and Mrs. Jobs are spending millions to influence policy.

I don’t expect to read that story here.


May 21, 2013, 6:09 p.m.

I’m waiting for the article on how it is problematic when Messrs. Soros and Bloomberg and Mrs. Jobs spend millions to influence policy and purchase ads against candidates and fund candidates who promise to carry out there agenda.

I don’t expect to find that article on ProPublica - or

Dianna Jackson

May 21, 2013, 7:16 p.m.

I think the point is that we should all be alarmed that moneyed interests are not representing the “peoples” point of view.  Both sides are playing the game and the people at the top are the only people that get represented because they paid to play. 

This is not a partisan problem, this is a problem with our broken form of government ultimately.  The system is broken on so many levels, this is just a manifestation of the problem.


May 21, 2013, 7:27 p.m.

I agree it is not a partisan problem, this is a problem with our broken form of government ultimately.  Especially when we have a very few wealthy individuals purchasing their ideal government and legislation.

However, I make the point that the media was notoriously biased recently; one read a great many complaints about the influence of the NRA (which has something like 4,000 active members) while reading laudatory articles describing Mayor Bloomberg as “taking action” by spending millions of dollars to eviscerate our civil liberties.

For those who wish to turn this into a “gun issue”, I wish to point out that no argument can be made against any portion of the Bill of Rights that cannot be made against any other portion of the Bill of Rights. I am old enough to remember people praising the late Oliver Wendell Holmes for his decision that contained the famous words about there being no right to shout “fire” in a crowded theater - a case that pertained to imprison those who spoke against WWII. This was a very popular decision among the majority when the first few voices began to speak against the Vietnam War.

I also recall segregation, a little devil that was imposed despite constitutional amendments to the contrary by finding exceptions and “weasel words” in how the Freedmen’s Amendments were written. I can recall my own mother being denied service in a Mexican restaurant as she clearly had American Indian ancestry. I also recall waiting in the car while my father registered at every hotel and motel to avoid embarrassment and awkwardness and exclusion.

Barb Campanile

May 22, 2013, 8:01 p.m.

Hey, who is in charge of the “flood Pro Publica” comments group? Can I join?


May 28, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

bush appointing libs? that’s pretty funny stuff considering HIS amin used the irs to target the naacp for, what, the length of his presidency? ya wanna talk about “liars,” let’s talk about the 3,000 slaughtered on 9/11, the 5,000, thanx to wmd’s, ‘shroom clouds, & nigerian pipes & uranium, and all done with out breakin’ a sweat so that cheney’s haliburton chums could rake in KA-JILLIONS in PROFIT (& how much of our tax$ actually WENT to “rebuilding” iraq, & that’s not including the $3.5 TRILLION that went “MISSING”)... oh & btw, cryin’ union foul when your boss threatens your job unless you vote HIS way, & keep yer trap shut? that’s called HYPOCRISY! beside, even PRE-citizens, the union $ PALED in comparison to the 1%‘s money, & yet, the unions didn’t get the votes X capital the kochs & adelsteins did, so our radical activist supreme court’s intention was LOUD & CLEAR: WHATEVER it takes to ROB the majority of US our voices & votes…

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