The IRS’s misconduct in its Tea Party persecution is not limited to targeting them for extra, intrusive scrutiny. They also were illegally leaking information to the press:
The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year. . .
In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public.
Now combine this with the incredibly intrusive demands for information, not only about the applicant organizations, and not only about the organizations’ employees, but about the organizations’ employees’ families, and combine that with an explicit threat to make everything public, and you get a clear picture of what they were trying to do: If they couldn’t intimidate Tea Party groups out of applying for tax-free status, they wanted to damage them by releasing personal information.
Just to be clear, this isn’t speculation. As above, they were already doing this.
Where would they get the idea to do this? As Glenn Reynolds notes, unsealing private records is Obama’s signature move. It’s not exaggerating to say his entire political career was founded on it.
Why would they think they could get away with it? They probably noticed that the Obama administration is very good to its underlings who commit misconduct in (what they view as) a good cause. If you ship thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels, you get promoted (while the whisleblowers are punished). If you leak confidential information from the Justice Department in an effort to harm Republicans, and then perjure yourself about it, you get not even a slap on the wrist.
POSTSCRIPT: Now that we know that the IRS is willing to release confidential information to damage the administration’s political opponents, how do you feel about Obamacare giving the IRS access to your health care records?
UPDATE: James Taranto has several more examples of the IRS leaking confidential information.