Another Group Targeted for IRS Scrutiny

In a press conference last week, White House press secretary Jay Carney fielded
insistent questions from a variety of news agencies regarding the Internal
Revenue Service’s alleged actions toward tea party organizations. There should
be more where that came from because the IRS has cast its net wide enough to
catch a pro-Israel group in its haul of organizations that appear not to align
with the executive branch’s policy preferences.

By now everyone knows that Sen. Mitch McConnell has called out the Internal
Revenue Service for its "thuggish practices" involving intensive scrutiny and
extended delays of decisions in cases where an organization included the words
"tea party," "patriot," or "9-12" in its application for federal tax-exempt
status. Apparently at McConnell’s request, the matter is now being investigated
by the IRS Inspector General. The House Ways and Means Committee initiated its
own investigation into the agency’s policies and practices.

Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers said publically on Sunday that the IRS had "agents who
were engaged in intimidation of political groups." He added, furthermore, "I
don’t care if you’re a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this
should send a chill up your spine. It needs to have a full investigation."

Indeed there will be an investigation. To grant Rogers his "full
investigation," however, will require Congress to look well beyond the tax
enforcement agency’s policies related to tea party organizations. Consider:

In a move that is astounding because it so obviously chills political speech in
the United States, the IRS has delayed and may deny the awarding of tax-exempt
status to Z STREET because its mission and goals contradict President Obama’s
Middle East policy.

When the nonprofit, educational Z STREET, a self-described Zionist-organization,
applied for tax-exempt status in 2009, the IRS demanded in writing to know "Does
your organization support the existence of the land of Israel?" Where the
president "strongly supports" the two-state solution, Z STREET was founded to
support the state of Israel as currently recognized by the international

Court documents filed by Z STREET verify that the IRS maintains a special policy
for organizations that are connected with Israel. The IRS informed the nonprofit
organization that its application had been forwarded to "a special unit in the
D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the
Administration’s public policies."

Z STREET should be praised for pushing back. The small organization has taken up
the cause of defending itself and other organizations that may find themselves
at odds with particular political beliefs of a future administration. Z
STREET’s initial hearing is scheduled for July 2 in federal district court in
Washington, D.C.

What is lamentable is that any nonprofit educational or charitable organization
would find itself pressured by the federal government to prove that its
charitable, religious, or educational goals are not incongruent with the foreign
or domestic policy agenda of a sitting president.


Daniel S. Brown, Jr. is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies
at Grove City College (Pa.) where he teaches rhetorical and communication
theories. His recent books include Interfaith Dialogue in Practice: Christian,
Muslim, Jew, available through Oxford University Press. He is also a
contributing scholar with [2]The Center for Vision and Values and holds advanced
degrees from Miami University (Ohio) and Louisiana State University.

© 2013 by The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. The views &
expressed herein may, but do not necessarily, reflect the views of Grove City

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