Par-tayyy! IRS: the Scandals that Keep on Taking

Written by Suzanne Olden on June 5, 2013

800px-NYC_IRS_office_by_Matthew_BisanzThe IRS has problems that just won’t go away.  Now there are reports of lavish spending, to the tune of $50 million in two years. All this while using the heavy hand of government to intimidate and discriminate against conservative groups.  Everyone in the US knows the terror that strikes your heart when you get a letter with “IRS” at the top.  This agency has the power to jail people, take all their money, their homes and other assets, if you don’t hop to it and do what they say.
The IRS has a spending problem.  Apparently the agency charged with collecting our hard earned tax money thinks it’s ok to spend $50 million of it on 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012.  A good example of their “thriftiness” is a conference held in August 2010 in Anaheim, California that cost $4 million.  The agency didn’t follow standard government practice and negotiate lower room rates for the gathering and instead shelled out stays in $1500-$3500 per might presidential suites and baseball tickets for 2600 attendees. This same conference had 15 outside speakers who were paid a total of $135,000 in fees.  One even talked about “leadership through art” by painting pictures of Michael Jordan and U2 singer Bono to motivate employees and was paid $17,000 for it!  
The hearing held yesterday included testimony from several representatives from groups who were targeted by the IRS.  Many of these conservative groups aren’t large PACs or political machines, but instead small grassroots groups run by people who could be your neighbor, out of their homes on shoestring budgets with money they get from donation jars, and surviving on the kindness of local businesses who give them a break on printing or the like.
One of these groups, the Alabama Tea Party, is headed by their President, Becky Gerritson.  She had tears in her eyes as she testified.  Reminding the House Ways and Means Committee that she was not looking to score political points, she spoke about the governmental targeting her group received.  She called the targeting “un-American” and a “willful act of intimidation” and said that she wants to “protect and preserve the America that I grew up in, the America that people cross oceans and risk their lives to become a part of, and I’m terrified that it is slipping away.” 
Another woman, Karen Kenney, who heads the San Fernando Valley Patriots, also testified.  In October 2010, the San Fernando Valley Patriots, already a not-for-profit corporation in California, applied for 501(c) 4 status with the IRS.  For a year and 4 months they heard nothing, until February 2012 when Kenny received a packet from the IRS Exempt Organizations Office in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The packet included a questionnaire with 35 items divided into 80 subpoints of inquiry.  They had 20 days to respond.  Kenny testified that many of the questions reminded her of “Red Scare” questions “Are you now or have you ever been…”
The IRS regularly asked conservative groups for documentation that included video and audio transcriptions or meetings and rallies, notes, copies of all handouts; the political party of speakers, and an “issues” list.  They even asked for information on employees, volunteers, members and businesses who helped them out or donated.  In one case they demanded a list of high school students who received educational materials from a Tennessee group that mentored them in conservative political philosophy, and the content of prayers of right to life groups.

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Suzanne Reisig Olden is a Catholic Christian, Conservative, married mother of two, who loves God, family and country in that order. She lives northwest of Baltimore, in Carroll County, Maryland. She graduated from Villa Julie College/Stevenson University with a BS in Paralegal Studies and works as a paralegal for a franchise company, specializing in franchise law and intellectual property. Originally from Baltimore, and after many moves, she came home to raise her son and daughter, now high school and college aged, in her home state. Suzanne also writes for The Firebreathing Conservative website ( and hopes you'll come visit there as well for even more discussion of conservative issues.