On July 7, 2011, Miller issued a memo that stopped an IRS effort to collect gift taxes from five major donors on their gifts to 501(c )(4) organizations such as Crossroads GPS or Priorities USA. The action to stop tax collection was taken in response to a written request to Shulman on May 18, 2011, from six Senators: Orrin G. Hatch, Jon Kyl, Pat Roberts, John Cornyn, John Thune, and Richard Burr -- all Republicans.
In a story on Miller's memo the same day, the New York Times reported:
"The I.R.S. has said that the White House had nothing to do with its audits, and its original statement said they were begun by lower-level employees and that administration officials were not notified. Frank Keith, an I.R.S. spokesman, said Thursday that the estate and gift tax unit had in fact suspended those audits in March, although the agency's initial confirmation of the audits did not mention any such action.
" "All decisions to open, suspend and close the audits were made by career civil servants and were not the result of any outside influence,' Mr. Keith said."
Media Makes Up Scandal Based on Little Evidence
All the exaggerated reporting to date has been based on an unquantified fraction of a draft report by the Treasury Department's inspector general that was leaked to AP, Reuters, and perhaps others, by unidentified people, reportedly congressional aides with access to the preliminary report. In others words, the first phase of this "scandal" appears to be a political spite balloon floated by partisan players, with whom major media colluded unprofessionally, either through sympathy or incompetence.
As this is written, the Inspector General's report has not yet been released, but that hasn't prevented Senators like Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, from suggesting that it describes "thuggish practices" or Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., from calling the unknown scope of activity "unacceptable and un-American."
The absence of a final report hasn't stopped Attorney General Eric Holder from plunging into the melee, telling reporters on May 14 that, in regard to using "tea party" or "patriot" as search criteria, even though these criteria were dropped almost two years ago and replaced by other, more benign criteria several times since:
"The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken in connection with those matters related to the IRS". Those actions were, I think as everyone can agree, if not criminal, they were certainly outrages and unacceptable. But we are examining the fact [sic] to see if there were criminal violations."
What Would a Political Reaction from Justice Look Like?
Unlike the President the day before, the Attorney General does not allow for the possibility that the alleged behavior may or may not have happened as reported. Instead he rushes to judgment of IRS functionaries in a way he has conscientiously avoided when considering bankers or torturers.
And when the Justice Department and the FBI look for criminal violations, is there any likelihood they'll probe the legality of any fundamentally political organizations getting the benefit of a tax subsidy and secrecy for their fanciful portrayals of "social welfare" organizations?