Did the IRS target conservative groups for tax audits?

Did the IRS actions targeting conservative groups go beyond just hassling them over their tax-exempt applications? House Ways and Means chair Dave Camp (R-MI) declared yesterday that the IRS also targeted conservative groups with existing tax exemptions for audits, which would expand the boundaries of the IRS targeting scandal significantly:

On Tuesday, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.) said his committee’s continuing investigation has found that the IRS also singled out established conservative tax-exempt groups for audits.

“We now know that the IRS targeted not only right-leaning applicants, but also right-leaning groups that were already operating as 501(c)(4)s,” Mr. Camp said in a statement. “At Washington, DC’s direction, dozens of groups operating as 501(c)(4)s were flagged for IRS surveillance, including monitoring of the groups’ activities, websites and any other publicly available information. Of these groups, 83% were right-leaning. And of the groups the IRS selected for audit, 100% were right-leaning.”

Democrats objected to Camp’s declaration, calling it an election-year stunt:

“Instead of this prestigious committee using its broad jurisdiction to address critical issues that confront us, it has been consumed by a tireless effort by Republicans to find political scandal, regardless of what the truth holds, as they look toward the November election,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.).

Jeff Dunetz has the entire Camp statement, which emphasizes that Treasury still has not provided “thousands” of documents relevant to the investigation into the targeting scandal:

It is important to note that the Committee has made these discoveries without even having the full universe of documents requested from the IRS – including thousands of documents from Lois Lerner that have not yet been provided. Simply put, our investigation is not yet over, the document collection is not yet complete, and I don’t believe the IRS or the FBI has interviewed a single victim. The notion that the Administration would rush forward with rules intended to remove these groups from the public forum, is simply unacceptable.

Under these proposed rules, activities such as candidate forums, get out the vote efforts, and voter registration would now be considered “political activity” for 501(c)(4) groups. It is notable to mention that these activities would not be considered political for 501(c)(3)s – who cannot engage in any political activity – or unions.

I have long made clear that this Committee will fight any and all efforts to restrict the rights of groups to organize, speak out and educate the public. The legislation before us today would prevent these rules from being implemented by this Administration for one year. This timeframe would allow Congress to finish our investigation and ensure that the agency processes what is already a record number of public comments – more than 23,000 so far – so that the IRS and Treasury can really get to the merits of why these rules were formed.

Katie Pavlich highlights testimony from Cleta Mitchell, who represented one of the organizations claiming to have been targeted, who blasted the IRS and Treasury last week:

The legislation to delay the rule-making at IRS passed out of committee yesterday, 23-13, and should sail to approval in the House. It will probably have to get attached to other legislation for the Senate to pass it, as it’s unlikely that Harry Reid will allow a stand-alone vote on anything that limits executive power in this so-called “year of action” at the White House. Besides, Democrats will need all they help they can get in the midterms.