Well, this should never happen.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS)acknowledged Friday that it had improperly flagged groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny if they contained common Tea Party keywords in their names. Rather than addressing the real problem of political committees masquerading as 501(c)(4) groups to evade public disclosure laws, this approach instead delayed the process for several groups purely on the basis of their names.
Lois Lerner, head of the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, noted that the number of 501(c)(4) group applications doubled between 2010 and 2012. As a result of this influx, she explained, low-level workers at the agency’s Cincinnati office had flagged about 300 applications for additional review based on a keyword search. None had their status revoked or denied and the IRS apologized for the mistake.
While it unclear whether the IRS workers intentionally targeted conservative groups — an agency spokesman did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress request for the complete list of keywords used — the office revealed that two of the terms on the list were “Tea Party” and “patriot.” As such, about 75 Tea Party groups were singled out for additional scrutiny.