The Tea Party's baseless claims of IRS discrimination left the agency on life-support, unable to police dark money gushing through "charities"

In 2013, Tea Party activists claimed that they'd been singled out by the IRS for political reasons, and that's why their associated nonprofits were not being approved by the tax agency. In reality, a longrunning investigation found that the IRS was merely incompetent and understaffed, but the Tea Party's tactic of going after the referee rather than the system worked for them: the result was an IRS that has had its resources cut even further, leaving it less -- nor more -- able to evaluate charitable organizations that apply for tax-exempt status.

The result is a dark-money free-for-all in which the IRS effectively rubberstamps anyone who claims to be a charity without any meaningful scrutiny, and where the charities it approves are able to freely file inadequate and misleading paperwork about the money they take in and what they do with it.

This has created vast networks of dark-money funded charities that violate the law by directly participating in partisan politics -- it's a tax-sheltered form of influence laundering.

In recent years, division leaders compounded their challenges by ordering expedited approval of tens of thousands of groups seeking tax-exempt status, documents and interviews show. Last year, the division rejected just 37 of the 79,582 applications on which it made a final determination, according to agency data and interviews.

The Post this year has reported on a sprawling network of conservative charities, funded by wealthy contributors such as the Koch brothers, the Mercer family and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, that worked closely with Stephen K. Bannon, Breitbart News and other conservative media outlets to amplify President Trump’s messages.

Among them was the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which describes itself as a “school for political warfare” and openly supported Trump. The charity’s president, David Horowitz, told The Post that both the right and left routinely use charities in a political war by proxy. “The entire [charity] universe is political,” Horowitz said.

Fallout from allegations of tea party targeting hamper IRS oversight of nonprofits [Robert O'Harrow Jr./The Washington Post]

(via Naked Capitalism)