Cincinnati IRS Office Also Released Confidential Documents to Reporters

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The agency employees who applied inappropriate amounts of scrutiny to right-wing groups' tax-exemption requests did at least one other questionable thing, reports ProPublica. As part of a 2012 investigation into the political activities of 501(c)(4) nonprofits — which are permitted to advocate for issues and legislation, but are not allowed to campaign for specific candidates — ProPublica asked the Cincinnati IRS office for a look at the tax-exemption applications of 67 groups. The Cincinnati office replied with "documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved — meaning they were not supposed to be made public." All nine of the unapproved applications happened to have come from conservative organizations — and six of them contained information ProPublica found newsworthy enough to publish, despite an IRS spokesperson's later warning that doing so would be illegal.