IRS approved liberal groups while tea party applications languished

The IRS reportedly approved groups with words like "progress" in the name

By Jillian Rayfield
Published May 15, 2013 5:11PM (UTC)
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(Theresa Martinez /

During the time that the IRS was scrutinizing groups with "tea party" or "patriot" in the name, the agency reportedly approved applications for tax-exempt status by dozens of liberal-sounding groups, according to a report by USA Today.

From USA Today:

As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months. With names including words like "Progress" or "Progressive," the liberal groups applied for the same tax status and were engaged in the same kinds of activities as the conservative groups.

Some of the groups included Bus for Progress, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment and Progress Florida.

As Bloomberg News reports, though, the agency also scrutinized three Democratic groups during the same time period:

One of those groups, Emerge America, saw its tax-exempt status denied, forcing it to disclose its donors and pay some taxes. None of the Republican groups have said their applications were rejected.

Progress Texas, another of the organizations, faced the same lines of questioning as the Tea Party groups from the same IRS office that issued letters to the Republican-friendly applicants. A third group, Clean Elections Texas, which supports public funding of campaigns, also received IRS inquiries.

On Tuesday, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released its report on IRS targeting, finding that the agency used  “inappropriate criteria” when reviewing applications for groups seeking social welfare status.

“Developing and using criteria that focuses on organization names and policy positions instead of the activities . . . does not promote public confidence that tax-exempt laws are being adhered to impartially,” the report said.

Attorney General Eric Holder is set to appear before a House Committee on Wednesday, where he will likely face questions on the IRS scandal, as well as the Department of Justice's subpoena of Associated Press phone records. Holder announced Tuesday that he is opening a criminal investigation into the IRS controversy.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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