"This isn’t the first time the agency has investigated political groups – just the first time it’s become a full-blown controversy."
"Not too long ago, it was environmental organizations and other progressive groups that were being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. ...
In 2005, Greenpeace USA was subjected to a rigorous IRS audit to see whether the group had engaged in activities prohibited by its 501 (c)3 and 501 (c)4 statuses. (Like many public interest groups, Greenpeace has both entities.) Greenpeace passed the audit.
The Wall Street Journal later reported that the Greenpeace audit had been spurred by a request from a little-known outfit called Public Interest Watch. That sounds like a high-minded, do-gooder organization, right? Well, turns out that Public Interest Watch was little more than a front group for Exxon Mobil. In one year, more than 95 percent of its $124,000 budget came from the oil industry giant.
Right before the IRS’s audit of Greenpeace, another in-your-face environmental group, Rainforest Action Network, was also targeted by conservatives. In 2004, the then chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican Bill Thomas of California, subpoenaed 10 years’ worth of RAN records. According to the folks at the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project, “right wing groups” such as Frontiers for Freedom and the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise had been publicly clamoring for an IRS audit of RAN since at least 2001. ...
Green groups weren’t the only ones who suffered from harassment during the Bush era.
In 2004 the IRS threatened to levy tax penalties on the NAACP after the group’s chairman criticized President George W. Bush for being the first president since Herbert Hoover to not address the nation’s oldest civil rights organization. As Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald reports, even churches whose pastors had questioned the Iraq War became the subject of IRS investigations."