Several, mostly conservative, news outlets have been publishing speculation about motives behind the decision of the Cincinnati-based Internal Revenue Service employees to group applications for tax-exempt status using politically fraught labels such as “tea party” and “patriot.”
Their mulling inevitably gravitated toward the 150,000-member National Treasury Employees Union, which represents many at the IRS. A Fox News analyst argued that Obama must go easy on the IRS to keep the union members happy, and the American Spectator saw a “smoking gun” in the fact that NTEU President Colleen Kelley visited the White House in 2010, the day before the targeting of conservative groups is said to have commenced.
Asked by Government Executive for a response, Kelley sent a statement saying that she “has had no discussions with the White House on this issue,” and that “no employee has asked NTEU to represent them in any disciplinary action at this point.”
She went on say that the Cincinnati employees, like all IRS workers, “perform vital work…without partisan bias or motive.” Noting the $1 billion in cuts to the IRS budget in the past two years, Kelley also pointed to “a serious detrimental impact on a variety of IRS activities, including training, which is a particularly important function as the tax code continues to become increasingly complex.”