The misuse of power

Sometimes events involving the federal government can seem to be far removed from our small island in the Pacific Ocean.

But the egregious misdeeds of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status touched home when the Tea Party Maui revealed that its application for 501c(4) was delayed by the agency for 26 months.

Bill Doyle, who was president of the local Tea Party in 2012, told The Maui News in an interview that the IRS kept demanding more information from the group about its members and donors after it applied for the 501c(4) status in May 2010.

The agency also wanted information on the group’s communications, speakers who addressed them, and information on the families of members.

The application that was expected to be approved within six to 12 weeks was finally approved in July.

Doyle said of the experience, “It’s chilling. What’s going on in America where political views make you a target for intimidation?”

While the targeting of the conservative groups for extra scrutiny is being blamed on managers in the IRS’ Cincinnati office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is opening up a criminal investigation of the whole matter. At least one Washington supervisor was blamed for lax oversight of the Cincinnati office in an inspector general’s investigation.

More than one commentator has pointed out that not since Watergate have the actions of the IRS seemed to be used for such blatant political purposes.

Doyle told the newspaper that he hopes a full open hearing on the IRS targeting will be conducted in Congress.

As of Wednesday, at least three congressional committees are promising just such hearings. It is very important for the American public to know just who was responsible for turning the IRS into a political attack dog.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.