IRS Approved More Conservative Groups Than Liberal Groups Selected For Review: Report

An analysis of a list of groups approved for tax exempt status, released by the Internal Revenue Service in the wake of its admission to targeting conservative groups for heightened scrutiny, determined that of the groups approved, more than two-thirds were conservative.

The analysis, by Martin A. Sullivan of Tax Analysts, examined a list of 176 advocacy organizations that were ultimately approved for tax exempt status by the IRS during the period when the service admits to having targeted certain conservative groups with inappropriate criteria.

According to Sullivan's analysis, 122 of the groups were conservative, 48 were liberal or non-conservative and 6 remain of unidentified ideology.

The IRS released the list on May 15, after senior official Lois Lerner announced that the IRS had been inappropriately targeting conservative groups in its review of groups seeking tax exempt status for political activity.

The inappropriate targeting included the appearance of keywords like "tea party," "patriot" and "9/12" to sweep up groups for further review. Among the approved groups, 46 had names that include those words, according to Sullivan.

Sullivan's analysis, however, does not illuminate much about the targeting scandal. It shows that conservative groups were reviewed and approved more often than liberal groups, but it does not state the total number of conservative and liberal groups that applied for tax exempt status during that period. The analysis also does not identify the ideological breakdown of groups that applied and have not been approved, since the IRS is prevented by law from providing the names of groups still being processed by the service. All of these caveats are noted in the analysis.

At least one error was readily identifiable in the Tax Analysts' analysis. A group named U.S. Health Freedom Coalition is listed as a liberal or non-conservative group, when it was in fact created by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity as the principal funding mechanism for ballot initiatives opposing the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Arizona and Ohio. The group is run by Eric Novack, a former Americans for Prosperity fellow and known conservative activist.

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