There was a brief point a few years ago in which the IRS "scandal" looked like a legitimate, proper controversy, worthy of real scrutiny. As regular readers may recall, when the story first broke, there was reason to believe politically motivated officials at the Internal Revenue Service "targeted" conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, and the uneven treatment represented an outrageous abuse of power. President Obama even denounced what he saw as possible wrongdoing.
After a few days, though, the story unraveled. Despite the apoplexy from Republicans and much of the Beltway media, we soon discovered that the tax agency scrutinized groups from the left, right, and center with equal vigor, effectively ending the story.
Much of the right, however, wouldn't give up, convinced that they'd finally found a credible Obama-era scandal. They were spectacularly wrong: the Justice Department and the FBI launched an exhaustive search and found nothing. The Washington Post reports today that the Treasury Department came up empty, too.
A federal watchdog has identified scores of cases in which the Internal Revenue Service may have targeted liberal-leaning groups for extra scrutiny based on their names or political leanings, a finding that could undermine claims that conservatives were unfairly targeted under President Barack Obama.
The Washington Post's phrasing is quite generous: the revelations "could undermine claims that conservatives were unfairly targeted under President Barack Obama"? If "could undermine" is synonymous with "completely discredits," then sure.
For those of us who've followed the story closely, this new reporting isn't exactly a breakthrough moment. The "scandal" evaporated years ago, and despite assorted partisans desperately trying to keep it alive, every serious examination has come to the same conclusion: the controversy never existed. After several years of scrutiny and multiple investigations, there's just nothing here.
The only thing missing is some accountability.