Shrinking scandal: In at least some cases, the IRS was doing its job

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The Obama admininstration's IRS profiling scandal isn't what it used to be.

The New York Times reported last week that several of the Tea Party organizations the Internal Revenue Service scrutinized to determine whether they were genuine "social welfare" groups entitled to tax exemptions were engaged primarily in political activity.

An Alabama Tea Party group sponsored get-out-the-vote training "dedicated to 'the defeat of President Barack Obama.' " A so-called veterans organization redirected some of its money to the campaign of a GOP candidate for Congress. The Ohio Liberty Coalition campaigned openly for last year's Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, the Times says.

When the IRS looked into these groups, it was doing its job. The agency would have been wrong to determine that conservative organizations should automatically be denied charitable status because they must be fronts for political action groups. But if many of the groups were fronts, that's relevant.

To be sure, some IRS workers didn't much like Tea Party groups and asked the organizations questions that were too personal, accusatory or beyond their authority.

That's abusive, and should be sanctioned. But it is not evidence of an agency running roughshod over Americans and their rights. The real story here may be that the IRS did its job, albeit crudely.

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