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Did IRS bureaucrats, liberal media help Obama win in 2012? (+video)

A House Oversight and Government Reform Committee memo suggests that IRS scrutiny of the tea party movement – egged on by liberal media – helped Obama win reelection in 2012.

By Staff writer / September 21, 2013

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. holds up a document as he speaks to IRS official Lois Lerner during a hearing on IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. Lerner told the committee she did nothing wrong and then invoked her constitutional right to not answer lawmakers' questions.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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A new House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “interim memo” on the IRS scandal suggests that media coverage of the tea party movement as “dangerous” and full of “rage” pushed IRS agents to scrutinize conservative groups unfairly.

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But could such collusion to target groups with the words “tea party” or “constitution” in their names – a program that the IRS acknowledges was a mistake – have chilled political speech to such an extent that it cleared the way for President Obama’s victory?

As it was, Obama won the popular vote by 5 million votes in 2012 over challenger Mitt Romney, while carrying 332 Electoral College votes to Mr. Romney’s 206.

But what has become clear to many conservatives is that federal agencies going back to 2010 appeared to openly champion liberal causes by, for example, putting on special conferences to show black churches how to express political opinions without losing their tax-exempt status, all the while stonewalling tea party groups with questions ranging from queries about religion to personal relationships.

At the very least, writes the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto this week, “Barack Obama’s reelection deserves to be listed with an asterisk in the record books. We know only that he did win with the help of a corrupt IRS. And if indeed the election was stolen, many in the media were complicit in its theft.”

The IRS has apologized, several officials lost their jobs, President Obama has assured Americans that the IRS doesn’t target people for their political beliefs, and Congress is investigating.

Lois Lerner, who is on leave from the top spot at the IRS’ tax exempt unit, has pleaded the Fifth Amendment – her right to not incriminate herself. Meanwhile, some of the central figures in the scandal have sought out high-profile Washington counsel as Republican-led House committees grind away at the truth.

So far, that truth has been slippery.

Officials first pointed fingers at a few IRS agents in Cincinnati. But Congressional investigators found that the decision web reached throughout the IRS, reaction that was tied heavily to the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case, which allowed rich Americans and corporations to fund tax-exempt groups allowed to do some political work.

The interim memo released this week by the Oversight committee – chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, known for his political aggressiveness – suggests professional malfeasance on a more ambiguous scale.

According to this theory, the IRS responded to anti-tea party frenzy in the Beltway press, all of which a growing contingent of conservatives believe had a deeply chilling effect on grass roots organizers, who had a lot to lose if they became political targets of the IRS.

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