After years spent as one of the nation’s most ardently liberal members of Congress, former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) became a paid Fox News contributor at the start of this year, and on Sunday his new role cast him as a defender of the tea party, accusing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of engaging in “political targeting” ahead of a presidential election.
“I am a liberal Democrat,” he said. “I’m not someone who’s celebrated tea party politics. But we cannot — this is not tolerable — we cannot have a condition in America where people’s politics are the basis for IRS attacks.”
Confronted on whether the situation was “just a bureaucratic foul-up” by lower-level IRS employees, Kucinich balked. “The tone is set from the top,” he said. “That’s the problem we have to look at here, the tone that’s set. We are in a hyper-partisan, intensely partisan condition in Washington. The polarization is damaging to our country and we’re seeing another symptom of it here.”
Asked by host Chris Wallace if what the IRS engaged in was “political targeting,” Kucinish replied: “How can it not be?”
To answer Kucinich’s rhetorical question, groups like Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, two of centers of gravity in the Republican Party, are also considered non-political, tax-exempt organizations by the IRS. As the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pointed out in a Federal Elections Commission complaint last July, these groups remain overtly political organizations at their core but retain tax-exempt status by carefully treading the line set in election law, which allows these groups to attack candidates or pending legislation, but not to ask for someone’s vote.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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