The reports of the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups may have seemed rather shocking to many Americans, but for the countless groups – both liberal and conservative – who have claimed they were unfairly targeted by the IRS, the recent scandal didn’t come as quite the surprise.
New revelations have uncovered that the IRS didn’t just target Republicans and the Tea Party conservatives alone, as some liberal groups, including PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Greenpeace, say the IRS targeted them as well during times of conservative administrations. In fact, PETA was audited in 1990 and 1992 during George H.W. Bush’s administration and again in 2003 and 2005 during George W. Bush’s presidency.
In addition, the conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, says it was targeted during the Clinton administration because it supported President Clinton’s impeachment for lying during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
It appears that many of the apparently targeted audits were as a result of an “information item,” in other words, a source of direct or anonymous information about a group or a specific person.
However, Marcus Owen, the directed of the IRS Exempt Organization from 1990 to 2000, noted that, “everyone who gets audited thinks they are being targeted by the IRS.”
Greenpeace, during their audit in 2003, said that an IRS agent looked at a photo of a Greenpeace activist chained to an Exxon gas pump and stated, “That’s not going to happen anymore.” Greenpeace also reported that both of their tax-exempt organizations were audited at the same time in 2005. The IRS asked for a wide array of documents during this time, including bank statements and emails among officers and key employees for a period of three years.
Said a former IRS agent: “The process of obtaining an exemption is a privilege…I knew a lot of people and nobody I know has ever had that experience.”