In response to What Initiated the IRS Targeting of the Tea Party?:
The answer, in a general sense (and, perhaps, a specific one, too), is President Barack Obama, who created a culture of intimidation around conservative donors and non-profits, going back to the 2008 campaign. That effort sharpened in early 2010 when President Obama did the unthinkable: humiliating the Supreme Court on national television during his State of the Union Address over their recent Citizens United ruling.
The signal to government bureaucrats was clear. The separation of powers no longer mattered, any more than basic principles of equality before the law. Conservative 501(c)4 groups were guilty, until proven innocent, of the trumped-up charge of taking money from foreign interests (note the left-wing xenophobia, too). It was the president’s agenda to undo, via executive power, what the Court had done. Here, courtesy of Media Matters Action Network–a non-targeted left-wing tax-exempt 501(c)4 outfit–is the video: