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New Records Reveal IRS Targeted Progressive Groups More Extensively Than Tea Party

Our conservative friends can have a hard time letting go of homemade controversies that have been proven to be unsubstantiated and untrue (see: Benghazi). So we’d like to do our part in helping them put to bed another of these: the belief that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status.

That is not to say that the IRS didn’t act improperly: the government body did target some groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny if they contained certain key words. The IRS has acknowledged that this was a failure, and President Obama and Congressional Democrats agree.

But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee couldn’t stop there. They have continued to assert that the IRS singled out Tea Party groups, including in the committee’s latest report entitled “Debunking the Myth that the IRS Targeted Progressives.”

To clear the air, ThinkProgress issued a request for IRS documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Here is what they found:

A series of IRS documents, provided to ThinkProgress under the Freedom of Information Act, appears to contradict the claims by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that only Tea Party organizations applying for tax-exempt status “received systematic scrutiny because of their political beliefs.” The 22 “Be On the Look Out” keywords lists, distributed to staff reviewing applications between August 12, 2010 and April 19, 2013, included more explicit references to progressive groups, ACORN successors, and medical marijuana organizations than to Tea Party entities.

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The scandal has certainly provided plenty of fodder for Fox News (President Obama even called them out on it in a pre-Super Bowl interview with Bill O’Reilly). But it has been costly to the IRS and soaked up countless hours of research, hearings, and reporting.

BOTTOM LINE: New information that the IRS actually targeted progressive groups more than the Tea Party should put this issue to rest once and for all. It’s time conservatives put aside petty, wasteful, and misleading political battles and help solve our country’s many challenges.

Note: The Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) has been recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(4) organization. ThinkProgress is a project of CAPAF. CAPAF does not endorse candidates, nor does it fund “independent expenditures” or any other kind of candidate-related advertising.