It Goes Deeper: IRS Shared Conservatives’ Confidential Info With ProPublica Journalism Group
May 15, 2013 by Ben Bullard
ProPublica, the nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative journalism, revealed Wednesday that the same Internal Revenue Service office alleged to have intentionally bogged down Tea Party nonprofits and other conservative groups with needless documentation demands during the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election also shared the still-pending, confidential tax-exemption applications of nine of those groups with — you guessed it — ProPublica.
According to a story posted to ProPublica’s website late Monday, the group had, for months, reported on the activities of several political nonprofits — with the financial information redacted — because the general topic was newsworthy during election season.
But in light of the ongoing IRS scandal involving alleged sabotage of the Obama Administration’s potential enemies, the agency also admitted it’s only fair play to disclose, now, that the IRS supplied much of the information ProPublica had used in its earlier reports:
In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved–meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We made six of those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)
… Before the 2012 election, ProPublica devoted months to showing how dozens of social-welfare nonprofits had misled the IRS about their political activity on their applications and tax returns. Social-welfare nonprofits are allowed to spend money to influence elections, as long as their primary purpose is improving social welfare. Unlike super PACs and regular political action committees, they do not have to identify their donors.
Applications for tax-exempt status are not allowed to be made public until after the IRS has approved a nonprofit group’s tax-exempt status. Notably, the agency reports that the IRS never offered up any liberal nonprofits’ applications for tax-exempt status. And the IRS hasn’t gotten back with ProPublica after the group requested to know who at the IRS is responsible for originally sharing the off-limits information.
ProPublica was launched with funding from the Sandler Foundation to “strengthen the progressive infrastructure” in investigative journalism. It received $125,000 from the George Soros-funded Open Society Foundations, an amalgam of other international foundations that, themselves, also are predominantly funded by Soros.