The Earth Liberation Front (ELF)‘s stated mission “is to defend and protect the Earth for future generations by means of direct action”, which they mean violent confrontation against environmentally-destructive corporations. Because of a long history of arson and other nefarious activities, the FBI labeled them a “eco-terrorist” organization in 2001. In 2004 under President Bush, the FBI led Operation Backfire that focused its attention on animal right and environmental activists who had or were conspiring to commit further illegal actions.
Have you ever heard of it? Probably not. The reason is simple. The Democrats did not accuse President Bush of using the civil service to crackdown on their political allies. They understood that these third-party organizations, despite receiving contributions and votes from them, were under investigation because they had stated objectives to act outside the established rules. Illegal behavior is not and will not to be tolerated.
The tables have been turned and the Democrats now occupy the White House. A surge in 2010 political activism on the right manifested in “tea party” organizations that had public missions to drive people against paying taxes. Tea-party affiliated groups stated that many taxes were “unconstitutional”; including the income tax, the ones in the Affordable Care Act, as well as many others. Many of these organizations were flagged by the IRS’s risk-analysis computer software as more likely to illegally cheat on their taxes, therefore they gave extra-scrutiny to these groups. All of these apolitical decisions were made by lower-level civil service employees as a part of their jobs on how to treat 501(c)4 groups. Just like Operation Backfire, there was little to no direction coming from the top.
Yet, all hell broke loose on the Right-wing talk radio when the IRS issued an apology if their software flagged Republican-affiliated organizations more so than Democratically-affiliated ones. They are accusing President Obama of Nixonian tactics of using the civil service to crack down on his opposition when nothing could be further from the truth.
The job of the civil service is to enforce the law, and to punish those who break it. It does not matter whether those groups vote and contribute to conservative or liberal causes. Being apolitical means applying the same rules to everyone, it does not mean spending the same number of hours and dollars investigating both political sides.This is just another Republican attempt to find political cover for their illegal activities. They think the rules of the game do not apply to them.