WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican senators have accused the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of conducting a politically motivated audit of a conservative watchdog group. This has drawn comparisons to a previous IRS targeting scandal during the Obama administration. The American Accountability Foundation (AAF), a nonprofit organization known for scrutinizing public leaders and institutions, is currently under examination for its tax-exempt status by the IRS. The agency has requested extensive documents, including all external communications related to the group’s activities.
AAF President Tom Jones believes that the IRS’s actions are politically driven and a deliberate attempt to suppress the organization’s efforts in highlighting the radicalism of some of President Joe Biden’s administrative nominees. In response, several GOP senators are demanding answers from the IRS regarding its targeting of the conservative watchdog. Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio stated, “The IRS is once again harassing conservative groups,” and called for an explanation.
The conservative watchdog has a history of closely scrutinizing President Biden’s nominees and bringing attention to controversial statements and circumstances surrounding their nominations.
Senators Vance and Mike Braun of Indiana wrote a letter to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel, questioning the legal rationale behind the agency’s decision to audit the AAF and citing reports that suggest Democrat senators had lobbied the IRS to investigate the tax-exempt status of conservative organizations.
The senators also raised concerns about the IRS’s previous targeting of conservative groups under the Obama administration. They requested information regarding discussions among IRS employees about the AAF’s political orientation and whether the agency considered auditing left-leaning groups in the past six months.
The AAF views the latest IRS audit as part of a pattern of federal agencies being “weaponized” under the Biden administration. The organization claimed that actions like Attorney General Merrick Garland’s memo instructing the FBI to monitor protesting parents and a memo discussing surveillance of Catholics by the FBI are examples of this pattern.
The AAF’s audit by the IRS has drawn criticism from attorney Cleta Mitchell, who represented conservative groups targeted by the IRS during the Obama presidency. Mitchell stated that the audit of the AAF resembles the tactics used by the IRS a decade ago and urged the agency to remember the public backlash it faced during that time.
The AAF has been vocal in its criticism of President Biden’s nominees and has used billboards, newspaper ads, and digital ads to inform the public about their concerns. The organization raised questions about the nominations of Gigi Sohn for FCC chair and Ann Carlson for National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, citing their statements and financial background.
The IRS’s targeting of the AAF has raised concerns among GOP senators who are calling for transparency and an explanation for the agency’s actions. The outcome of the audit and its implications on conservative watchdog organizations remain uncertain.