The Heritage Foundation wants to let you know that it’s very unfair that Tea Party groups were given greater scrutiny from IRS over their nonprofit applications and tax-exempt status. Such political intimidation and discrimination obviously has no place in a democratic society… unless of course it is done against left-wing groups. In which case, IRS audits are just window dressing.
During the 1980s, the federal government, right-wing exiles and private conservative organizations waged a domestic war against the Central American solidarity movement and it’s related Sanctuary movement. The repression consisted of–but was by no means limited to–frivolous investigations, widespread infiltration by informants and provocateurs, death threats, break-ins, criminal prosecution and at least one case of kidnapping, rape and torture…. and there were indeed unwarranted IRS audits, but that’s just kid stuff compared to most of what the FBI, the INS and others put the Central America peace movement through.
By the late 1980s much of this official sabotage against a generally peaceful non-violent movement was coming out from under wraps thanks to FOIA requests and Congressional investigations. Inside the prepared statement of a civil liberties group from one of the Congressional hearings is this nugget of information:
The requested advisory from the Heritage Foundation suggested a harder line against domestic groups opposed to administration policies. It called for ”presidential emphasis on the nature of the threat… the reality of subversion and emphasis on the un-American nature of much so-called dissidence.” The Heritage report insisted that it was critical that investigations of political groups not be required to be linked to a criminal investigation, and asserted that the FBI should be allowed to conduct break-ins as part of such investigations, without warrants or approval from the President or the Attorney General. According to the Heritage Foundation, surveillance of political groups requires “such standard intelligence gathering techniques… as wire-tapping, mail covers… and at least occasionally, illegal entries.”
So, in other words, the Heritage Foundation advised the Reagan administration to conduct black-bag jobs against domestic dissidents. The Heritage report literally used the word “illegal” to describe the conduct it was recommending.
Still, it could have been worse: the Heritage Foundation could have asked the feds to delay the peace organizations’ tax-exempt status.