Allen West Attempts To Be Relevant By Leaping Into IRS/Tea Party Story With Claims Of Conspiracy

Is Allen West serious?; image@TalkingPointsMemo

Is Allen West serious?; image@TalkingPointsMemo

Oh, Allen West.

It seems since Mr. West begrudgingly (an understatement) lost his Florida representative seat in the November election, he’s become much like the reluctant retiree who hates golf, is too bored to write his memoirs, and refuses to accompany his wife to the mall one more damn time, so he’s out with a stick beating the bushes for something, anything, to occupy his hours and grab him some of the white-hot attention he so sorely misses.

Case in point: in April, he made a scene on Facebook after students at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) protested to West’s wife, who is on the board of trustees at there, for decisions made regarding money donated and rights allocated to name a football stadium. Mrs. West apparently told hubby she felt threatened by those rowdy rapscallions and he, in turn, took to social media to lambaste said students in language interpreted as a threat by those he targeted.

Phew. That got him outta the house for a while.

But like any pumped-up scandal, that one slowly disappeared from trending media, leaving him to sit in the cabaña room sipping lemonade, bemoaning his lack of relevance. But wait, here comes a new pumped-up scandal he can sink his teeth into: the “IRS targeted the Tea Party” brouhaha. Being a member of the Tea Party, possessing the bona fides of actually having been elected as a Tea Party representative for the often-incomprehensible state of Florida, he felt himself uniquely qualified to jump into the swirling eddy of this latest attempt by the GOP to stoke a bonfire to their vanities. He slapped on some aftershave, put on his best suit, and hopped on over to GOP news source, Fox News, to spout some Westian ‘logic.’ He not only wanted to speak his piece about the IRS issue in general, he wanted to stretch back as far as the stick-up-his well-cut-sport-coat would allow, and draw a link from that fracas to the auto bailout of 2009, crying “Obama conspiracy!” to all who would listen. From Raw Story:

Former Congressman Allen West on Sunday (R-FL) said that an admission by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that it had improperly scrutinized tea party groups was part of a wider conspiracy that included President Barack Obama’s administration forcing Republican-owned car dealerships to be shut down during the auto bailout in 2009. [… ]

“There were a lot of automobile dealerships that were closed down because people found out who they were providing funds and support to, when you go back and look at that auto bailout.”

As part of Chrysler’s bailout deal with the U.S. government in 2008, the company agreed to close about a quarter of its 3,200 dealerships. By 2009, conservative media outlets like The Washington Examiner and Fox News were suggesting that the Obama administration had been disproportionately targeting Republican-owned dealers.

But looked into the claims in September of 2009 and found that the “best evidence shows that dealerships with Republican donors weren’t disproportionately targeted – auto dealers overall tend to lean overwhelmingly Republican.”

In fact, it was noted that a Fox News study itself debunked the purported claims, and even 2012 election wunderkind, Nate Silver, worked his mathematical magic to put facts and numbers together at the time and came up with the following:

“Nobody has bothered to look up data for the control group: the list of dealerships which aren’t being closed,” FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver wrote in 2009. “It turns out that all car dealers are, in fact, overwhelmingly more likely to donate to Republicans than to Democrats — not just those who are having their doors closed.”

“Overall, 88 percent of the contributions from car dealers went to Republican candidates and just 12 percent to Democratic candidates,” Silver pointed out. “There’s no conspiracy here, folks — just some bad math.”

So there ya go: the attempt to create linkage between the auto bailout of 4 years ago is a pile of hooey and West is left with loads of it on his grasping paws.

But back to his pontifications on the inciting incident, the purported IRS malfeasance. Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

As to the matter of the “Tea Party” proper, the political party being unfairly targeted by the IRS, the accusation is, quite frankly, a faulty one. The IRS was looking at political groups which funnel funds to support the party, not THE party itself. Saying the Tea Party, as a whole, is being unfairly targeted would be akin to, say, calling an investigation of the Valley Center Elementary School PTA an investigation of the entire Los Angeles Unified School District. Conflation of focus.

Don’t believe me? It was back in July, 2012…

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on Monday filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that three major pro-Republican groups were violating federal campaign laws.

The complaint targets 60 Plus Association, Crossroads GPS, and Americans for Prosperity. All of the groups are registered as tax-exempt nonprofit 501c(4) organizations, also known as social welfare organizations, allowing them to receive unlimited funds without having to disclose their donors. The three groups have made millions of dollars worth of independent expenditures, but have not registered as political committees.

“Respondents are raising and spending millions of dollars to accomplish their major purpose of influencing federal elections, while hiding their funding sources. By operating in secret, they have violated and continue to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act. Accordingly, Complainant Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee respectfully requests that they be enjoined from further violations and fined the maximum amount permitted by law,” Guy Cecil, executive director of the DSCC, writes in the complaint (PDF). [Source]

So what we’ve got is an investigation into groups that purported to be qualified for tax-exempt status being investigated because, despite assertions that they’re “social welfare organizations” (you know, like churches), they are, in fact, functioning as secret fundraising entities for political parties, elections, etc., and should, by all legal interpretation, be held to the same reporting standards as any political committee. Not hard to understand why Democrats and others would want them investigated.

Not dissimilar, in fact, to the screaming frenzy of the GOP in regards to ACORN, an organization they believed was doing the same (see Watchdog Group Calls On IRS To Investigate Re-Branded TX ACORN Branch). Fair game? Quid pro quo? You decide.

What has followed, most recently, is an admission by the IRS that certain agents were “targeting” tea party groups (as early as 2011, apparently) to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. And, it turns out, at least in the case of Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, there were reasons to be concerned. In a piece I wrote in December, 2012, Did Karl Rove Lie To The IRS To Gain Tax-Exempt Status For Crossroads GPS?, one of my sources, ProPublica, an organization described as “an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest,” did a considerable amount of investigation into that question and found that, indeed, Rove’s group “misstated” their purpose as a tax-exempt organization… which appears to support both the IRS’s concerns and those of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. I urge you to read the article to get a fuller picture on the Rove situation.

Which brings us back around to the current conflagration and the indignant huffing and puffing of certain GOP spokespeople on the issue of the ‘Tea Party’ (more accurately, political groups that support the Tea Party) being unfairly targeted by the big, bad wolf of the IRS. Certainly, if the agency is operating inappropriately it should be censured and stopped (as even the President stated). It seems they have apologized for any potential bias in their investigating and even Fox News host, Alisyn Camerota made the point to Mr. West (but with a very Foxian twist on the facts) that it was only about “rogue, low-level IRS agents in the Cincinnati office who thought that they were going to personally stick it to the tea party.” But Allen West would have none of that:

“Well, of course,” the tea party-favorite Republican declared. “The most important thing we need to come to understand is, your First Amendment rights, is you have the right to petition the government for redress of your grievances. If we start to have a government that is targeting certain groups for their political ideology because they don’t believe it is in concert with their beliefs, this is Orwellian, to put it in the least manner.”

“We’ve got to come back and have hearings on this,” he continued. “This is something that is criminal.” [Source]

Orwellian? Frankly, it appears more about the demand for transparency and truth when it comes to the false front of political action committees hiding their donors (allowing them to funnel far more money than would be allowed otherwise to candidates and elections), and manipulating their true status behind the smoke and mirrors of “social welfare organizations.”

Yes, Mr. West, this is, indeed, something that is criminal.



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