Act Two: Merkley and the IRS Scandal

Dr Monica Wehby_thb

Dr. Monica Wehby for U.S. Senate

Hypocrisy is the scarlet letter of modern day politics, and Jeff Merkley is wearing it. From Main Street to Wall Street, Senator Merkley’s actions rarely match his rhetoric. Saying one thing, and doing another is the recipe by which Merkley and his political cohorts hold on to power, proving his allegiance lies not with the people of Oregon, but rather D.C. special interests.

The second act of hypocrisy we’ve caught Senator Merkley in is the Internal Revenue Service scandal involving the targeting of groups based on their political leanings. In May 2013, Mr. Merkley called the IRS targeting of political groups “wrong and absolutely unacceptable”, but had pressured the IRS to investigate those same political groups in March 2012. What a difference a year makes!

Here’s how it played out:

In 2012, Merkley Pressured The IRS To Target Tax-Exempt Conservative Groups

In A 2012 Letter To The IRS, Merkley And Six Other Senators Urged The IRS To Investigate Tax-Exempt Political Groups “To Prevent Abuse Of The Tax Code” And Vowed To Take Legislative Action If The IRS Failed To Do So. “We write to ask the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) to immediately change the administrative framework for enforcement of the tax code as it applies to groups designated as “social welfare” organizations. … We urge the IRS to take these steps immediately to prevent abuse of the tax code by political groups focused on federal election activities. But if the IRS is unable to issue administrative guidance in this area then we plan to introduce legislation to accomplish these important changes.” (Sen. Charles Shumer, “Senate Democrats Urge IRS To Impose Strict Cap On Political Spending By NonProfit Groups–Vow Legislation If Agency Doesn’t Act,” Press Release, 3/12/12)

Merkley “Publicly Pressured The IRS To Target Groups That Held Differing Political Views.” “Over the last three years, Democratic senators repeatedly and publicly pressured the IRS to engage in the very activities that they are only now condemning today. … From Max Baucus to Chuck Schumer to Jeanne Shaheen, key Senate Democrats publicly pressured the IRS to target groups that held differing political views and who, in their view, had the temerity to engage in the political process. The IRS listened to them and acted.” (Brian Walsh, “Senate Dems Have As Much To Explain As The IRS,” US News, 5/14/13)

But In 2013, Merkley Called For A Full Investigation Of The IRS

In May 2013, Merkley Said “What The IRS Did Was Wrong” And “Absolutely Unacceptable.” MERKLEY: “What the IRS did was wrong. Targeting groups by their name or their ideology is absolutely unacceptable. The IRS has a lot of power and it is imperative that it be used evenhandedly. A full investigation should be conducted, responsible people should be punished, and action should be taken so that this inappropriate targeting doesn’t happen again.”

The Senator Doth Protest too much…

Sensing the potential political fallout, if not outright legal consequences his letter might have, Mr. Merkley acted quickly to condemn the IRS’ actions. So much so in fact, that his own press release essentially called for a full investigation and punishment of himself. Senator Merkley says the “responsible people should be punished”, which begs the question, should he and his hypocrite senator friends be among them?

Urging the IRS to target your political enemies is one thing. Expressing outrage over the fact that IRS officials did what you asked them to do takes hypocrisy to a whole new level. Nonetheless, this type of behavior is to be expected of a career politician like Jeff Merkley – He just can’t help himself.