Hear that?

 Those crickets are the silence from much of the big-name statewide left-wing groups after the bombshell story broke that the Internal Revenue Service had been targeting various tea party and conservative organizations. The entire point of these expedited audits: challenges to their tax-exempt status.

Why the silence? Because, going to the IRS has been in the playbook of the new Left for much of the past decade. If some state Democratic party or so-called "good government group" finds a new, up-and-comer is getting too good at foiling their plans – BAMM!! – out comes the merit-less IRS complaint.

The IRS has been the main weapon in the Left’s attacks on the Koch Brothers, too. In August of 2010, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) filed an IRS complaint against Americans for Prosperity (AFP) for a series of ads they ran in Michigan, Missouri and Kansas. At the heart of the DCCC’s demand in their complaint, was the intended elimination of AFP’s tax-exemption.

During the failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker last year, the Left tried a two-prong approach.  In their preparations for political war, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a complaint to the Government Accountability Board (with a copy forwarded to the IRS) in the middle of February.  They made clear their intent was to go after the tax-exempt status of AFP-Wisconsin and the MacIver Institute.

What crime was committed according to the Democrats? Maintaining a website and running issue ads meant to inform the public about the effects of Act 10.

DPW Chairman Mike Tate made his party’s intentions of going after tax-exempt status when he told reporters in a conference call the following:

"Well I think what we have here is a very clear admission from David Koch that he is using and abusing this loophole in IRS code and election law to spend tax-deductible money to the benefit of a candidate," said Tate. "And while there may seem to be no real rules in Wisconsin politics or federally anymore, we think this is such an affront to the Wisconsin standard of open and clean government that we must take a stand here, and this is worthy of investigating."

(Funny how you never hear that said about One Wisconsin Now or the Greater Wisconsin Committee from these guys…)

As back up, their allies at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign filed a similar IRS complaint in mid-March--adding the Chicago-based Heartland Institute to claims against AFP-Wisconsin and MacIver.

Ironically, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign itself is a tax exempt organization.  

In the future, this tactic may be used against churches and other religious organizations, because they too qualify as tax-exempt organizations. Go on any liberal comment thread these days and it is a standard idea being tossed around when it comes how they’d deal with pro-life groups and opponents of gay marriage. 

So why sick the IRS on political foes? The most obvious is that it is an intimidation tactic. By forcing an organization to deal with an IRS inquiry, it takes away time and resources from its primary mission.

Secondly, it is a walk-around by campaign finance absolutists who want a peek at the confidential list of an organization’s donors. If those are ever made public, any sort of intimidation campaign moves from these groups’ offices to the very homes and workplaces of their donors.

Finally, the IRS is the only government entity with the power to shutdown many of these organizations overnight. Non-profit organizations rely on their tax-exempt status to help with fund raising and if it were striped, money might dry up. If the money dries up, the doors close forever.

Don’t ever assume there isn’t an alternative motive when someone demands the IRS look at a political foe’s books and have their tax-exempt status revoked. Using the threat of government action to silence political opponents is about as low as it gets in political discourse.

The IRS story is not just about an overreach of government intrusion. It is about seeing a preferred tactic of the Left blow up right before our eyes.

No wonder they’re keeping silent, they are too embarrassed to speak up.