When the IRS scandal broke in 2013, Democrats initially claimed to be as outraged as Republicans that the federal government had singled out conservative non-profit groups for scrutiny, delay, and investigation.
But it was quickly made clear that Democrats had urged the IRS to do exactly what it did, in violation of the law. President Barack Obama and his party quickly pivoted to use the scandal to renew their attacks on conservative 501(c)4 non-profit groups.
Now, California’s new Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, intends to pick up that effort where it left off, pursuing non-profit groups that he claims are doing more political work than charity or social welfare work. Capitol Public Radio points out that “most of the top non-profit political spenders in 2016 were conservative organizations, and an attempt by California’s Democratic attorney general to crack down on them could be politically fraught.” However, it is unlikely that Becerra — one of the most partisan Democrats in his career on Capitol Hill — will target left-wing non-profits.
In 2014, in fact, the Washington Examiner named Becerra to its list of “six top Democrats covering for the IRS.” It noted that during hearings on the IRS, he apologized to the IRA commissioner for what he called an “inquisition.” He also suggested, falsely, that liberal groups had been equally targeted by conservative groups for additional scrutiny. (The IRS did examine a small number of liberal groups, but they were all approved for non-profit status; it singled out hundreds of conservative groups, whose applications were held up and never approved, or only approved much later.)
Becerra’s predecessor, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), also pursued conservative groups. She tried, and failed, to force Americans for Prosperity to reveal its donors. Becerra aims to continue that, undeterred by the IRS scandal’s lessons.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.