As IRS efforts targeting politically-conservative groups gained momentum, George Soros-funded liberal groups repeatedly called on the IRS to investigate conservative nonprofit organizations.
While the first reported instances of extra IRS scrutiny for conservative groups began in Cincinnati in March of 2010, the attacks began to pick up steam on a national level soon after Soros-funded groups began firing off letters to the IRS in October of that year - following the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.
The talking points of these groups then bounced around a carefully created progressive "echo chamber," until they eventually made their way into established media outlets. Key IRS policy changes about how it investigated conservative groups took place soon after it received three separate letters sent by Soros-funded liberal organizations.
Several Soros-funded groups including the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, the Center for Public Integrity, Mother Jones and Alternet have worked to pressure the IRS to target conservative nonprofit groups. The subsequent IRS investigation flagged more than 100 tea party-related applications for higher scrutiny, including applications that included the words "Tea Party" and "patriot."
The IRS scandal can be traced back to a series of letters that the liberal groups Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Democracy 21 sent to the IRS back in 2010 and 2011. Both groups were funded by George's Soros's Open Society Foundations. The CLC received $677,000 and Democracy 21 got $365,000 from the Soros-backed foundation, according to the Foundation's 990 tax forms.
The letters specifically targeted conservative Super PACs like Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS, asking the IRS to scrutinize them more thoroughly to determine whether or not they should retain their tax-exempt status.
On Oct. 5, 2010, when the first letter was sent to the IRS, calling specifically for the agency to "investigate" Crossroads GPS. The letter claimed Crossroads was "impermissibly using its tax status to spend tens of millions of dollars in the 2010 congressional races while hiding the donors funding these expenditures from the American people." Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer wrote a blog post for the liberal Huffington Post to promote it, and the effort to get the media to notice the anti-conservative campaign began.
On June 27, 2011, a second letter by the CLC and Democracy 21 complained about enforcement of 501(c)(4) tax regulations, asking "that the IRS issue new regulations that better enforce the law." Two days later, an IRS senior agency official was briefed on a new policy targeting groups which "criticize how the country is being run," according to a Washington Post story. According to the Post, this policy was later revised.
A third letter by the CLC and Democracy 21, on Sept 28, 2011, got media traction. The letter showed the escalation of the left's complaint about 501(c)(4) groups. It challenged "the eligibility of four organizations engaged in campaign activity to be treated as 501(c)(4) tax exempt organizations." The four organizations included Crossroads GPS, Priorities USA, American Action Network and Americans Elect.
The Soros-funded Center for Public Integrity ($2,716,328) published a "study" on 501(c)(4) groups, on October 31, which drew heavily from, and referenced, the CLC and Democracy 21. The Center for Public Integrity has strong media connections and boasts an advisory board that includes Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, and Michele Norris, an NPR host, as well as a board of directors with such prominent names as Huffington Post CEO Arianna Huffington, Steve Kroft of CBS News's "60 Minutes" and Craig Newmark (founder of Craigslist).
This study then led to a Mother Jones article about a month later, on November 18, which was reposted on the left-wing blog Alternet on November 21. By December of 2011, the topic had been picked up in a New York Times editorial, and then began receiving other media coverage. That editorial called for "the Internal Revenue Service to crack down on the secret political money already flooding the 2012 campaign from partisan operatives ludicrously claiming to be 'social welfare' activists."
On Jan. 15, 2012, the IRS targeted groups focused on limiting government or educating people about the Constitution and Bill of Rights
Alternet and Mother Jones are both members of The Media Consortium, which is designed to do exactly what happened here. The Media Consortium was created to be a progressive "echo chamber," where 63 separate left-wing media outlets can network and share ideas, as well as cross-promote stories. Other members of the Consortium include such liberal outlets as The Nation, Democracy Now! and The American Prospect. The consortium has also received $675,000 in Soros funds since 2000. Alternet ($285,000) and Mother Jones ($485,000) have both also received individual funding from Soros's Open Society Foundations.
This isn't the only time the IRS has targeted conservative groups recently, nor is it the only connection between the IRS and Soros-funded groups. The IRS gave the left-wing journalism site ProPublica the applications for nine conservative groups pending tax-exempt status.
The IRS also released the confidential donor lists of the National Organization for Marriage to the liberal Human Rights Campaign. Both the Human Rights Campaign ($2,716,328) and ProPublica ($300,000) are also Soros-funded. Despite its blatant liberal leanings, ProPublica boasts a staff of well-known journalists, including veterans of The New York Times and The Wall Street journal, as well as of liberal operations like the Center for American Progress and The Nation, and has even won two Pulitzer Prizes.
Timeline Shows Influence of Soros-Funded Groups
- March 1-17, 2010: First ten reported cases of targeting by the IRS against groups that had ties to the "tea party or similar organizations."
- Sept. 16, 2010: TIME article "The New GOP Money Stampede" quotes Wertheimer;
- Sept. 23, 2010: DISCLOSE act, a campaign finance disclosure act specifically targeting a Tea Party group, in the writing of which the CLC participated, fails in the Senate;
- Sept. 28, 2010: Democrat Senator Max Baucus writes a letter to the IRS, citing the TIME article;
- Oct. 5, 2010: Democracy 21 and Campaign Legal Center petition IRS, Wertheimer writes HuffPo article;
- Oct. 7, 2010: Legal brief from HoltzmanVogel PLLC against the Democracy 21 petition;
- Oct. 14, 2010: Dick Durbin asks IRS to investigate American Crossroads, HuffPo coverage;
- June 27, 2011: Second petition to the IRS by CLC and Democracy 21;
- June 29, 2011: IRS senior agency official Lois Lerner briefed on efforts to target groups which "criticize how the country is being run";
- Sept. 28, 2011: CLC and Democracy 21 petition IRS again, this time about four conservative groups;
- Oct. 31, 2011: CPI "investigation";
- Nov. 18, 2011: Mother Jones article;
- Nov. 21, 2011: Alternet repost of Mother Jones Article;
- Dec. 29, 2011: New York Times oped;
- Jan. 15, 2012: IRS targeted groups focusing on limiting government or educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights;
- February 2012: First articles promoting this issue appear in New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times
$6.1 Million in Soros Funding Since 2000
Center for Public Integrity: $2,716,328
Campaign Legal Center: $677,000
Media Consortium: $675,000
Mother Jones: $485,000
Democracy 21: $365,000
Human Rights Campaign: $600,000