Conspiracy theories are the special province of the right-wing, raised to new levels of sophistication and then brought to our shores from, as FDR called them, the "European dictatorships."
Take American right-wing propaganda from the '30s, substitute "Muslim" for "Jew," and you pretty much have today's rhetoric, even down to the president himself. FDR, you see, was really a Jew, his true surname was Rosenfelt. Franklin Delano Rosenfelt. Just like thousands of Jewish men everyone knows.
Their formula is to have a scintilla of truth, some so-called event that actually occurs, and then milk it for all the fear and loathing that can be ginned up. The Reichstag fire was either set by a single man with communist leanings, or perhaps just the Storm Troopers themselves, but it instantly -- and even without the internet! -- was transformed into a gigantic communist conspiracy to take over Germany, so that only emergency powers granted to the Chancellor would prevent it. And thus a party with 30 percent of the seats in Parliament (the Reichstag) seized control.
The American right-wing has nothing whatever to offer the American people to improve their lives and opportunities for their children.
So, their only path to power is to stage their own "Reichstag Fire."
Enter, the Internal Revenue Service. Enter, also, Darrell Issa (R-CA) who, it happens, is no stranger to arson himself.
It is said that no one likes the IRS. Sure, no one likes to pay taxes any more than one likes to get a shot of penicillin. A child may "hate" his pediatrician for giving him the shot, but adults realize the doctor is really helping them, and realize that taxes are the price they pay for civil society.
Moreover, I beg to differ that the IRS is a heartless bureaucracy. I was recently audited. The IRS agents could not have been more cordial or helpful in explaining what documents I needed to produce. I produced them, and received a closure letter in a timely fashion. I did not think it inappropriate for the IRS to ask me to document certain elements of my return.
But, that is beside the point. To the right-wing, the IRS is, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the visible symbol of government tyranny. Because no one enjoys paying taxes, the IRS is a promising target to use to trigger the "reptilian" part of our brains to drown our more rational thoughts. It gets people shouting to "get government out of my Medicare."
The right-wing pretends that 501(c)4 status is a privilege, not a god-given right. No one, no organization, has the right to the tax subsidy nor donor anonymity provided by 501(c)4 status unless they follow certain rules. An organization has to follow very careful rules to deserve this privilege, and the IRS is required by law to determine whether an organization qualifies.
Let us be clear. There is nothing that prevents any of these Tea Party organizations to advocate as much as they wish. All 501(c)4 says is that, if you want to do that with a tax-subsidy and donor anonymity, you have to play by rules that the IRS enforces.
There is, moreover, no obligation to make formal application for 501(c)4, and if an organization is clearly not engaging "primarily" in political activity, but rather social welfare, it can safely claim the privileges without fear than an IRS audit would find otherwise.
The right-wing knew very well that applying for 501(c)4 status using organizational names that, for example, had the word "Party" in it, would inevitably trigger IRS scrutiny to make sure that organization was really, primarily, a "social-welfare" group.
Indeed, former IRS division chief Marcus Owens, who reviewed the Inspector General's report, said that the questions the IRS asked were perhaps vague, but were perfectly proper and, using the example of revealing donors, upheld by the United States Tax Court. That is, he said the Inspector General got it wrong too.
Becky Gerritson, from the Wetumpka Tea Party, just testified before the House Ways & Means Committee. She tearfully recounted the scrutiny to which her organization was subjected. One can only assume that she felt so aggrieved because she believed it was her god given right to do any advocacy she wants -- tax-free and anonymously. The law says she does not.
Regrettably, no one bothered to ask Ms. Gerritson what she believes she is free to do with the taxpayer subsidy that 501(c)4 provides. Imagine her horror to discover that her Tea Party was applying for a subsidy!
What better way to create a "Reichstag fire" than to put "Party" in your name deliberately, guaranteeing proper IRS scrutiny?
The right-wing knew that, as good public servants, the IRS would do its job and properly question organizations seeking special privileges as social-welfare groups, but who had "Party" in their name. Then, the right-wing would start complaining about the scrutiny, claiming victimhood, and make enough noise to get an Inspector General investigation.
Consider this: why would any organization applying for 501(c)4 status call itself "Party" that would be an automatic disqualifier? Right-wing lawyers are not stupid. When applying for anything, one tries to fit the requirements as closely as possible. Trumpeting "Party" in the organization's name is designed to attract scrutiny, so they can claim victimhood, not to get approval.
Moreover, why did these "anti-government" types apply in the first place? There is absolutely no legal obligation to do so.
It would be instructive to know how many of these groups used the same attorneys, either directly or as "consultants." That is most likely common denominator among these groups that could coordinate this tactic. Careful introduction of the word "Party", and associating it with other words that are in other applications, would make a computer search almost self-fulfilling.
My gut feeling is that this is what happened, and since gut feelings appear to be a sufficient standard of proof these days, take it as proven.
Based upon more traditional standards, I would say that it is far more plausible than the phony Benghazi and IRS "scandals" that have been the center of media frenzy.