The IRS targeting of political enemies of President Obama may have been formally launched in 2010, but similar operations were conducted by the Obama campaign back in 2008, not only targeting Republican adversaries, but also targeting Democratic Party primary rivals including Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Kimberley Strassel detailed this Obama enemies list history in the Wall Street Journal this week. On Aug. 21, 2008, a conservative group, American Issues Project, began airing ads detailing Obama's links to Weatherunderground leaders Bill Ayer and Bernadine Dohrn.
The very next day, Obama campaign general counsel (and later White House general counsel) Bob Bauer wrote to the Justice Department, demanding immediate criminal prosecution of the group, as well as its "anonymous doners." On Sept. 8, 2008 Bauer demanded that the FEC force AIP to provide him with tax documentation of the group and also pressed for FEC direct action. Even earlier, Bauer, on behalf of the Obama campaign, had filed similar prosecution demands against American Leadership Project, a group supporting Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries. Similar complaints were leveled against the Edwards campaign. Four years later, after serving a stint as White House general counsel, Bauer was back at the Obama re-election campaign and waged IRS complaints and other actions against identified large donors to the Romney campaign.
"None of this proves that Mr. Obama was involved in the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofits," Strassel acknowledged,
"But it does help explain how we got an environment in which the IRS thought this was acceptable... If the country wants to get to the bottom of the IRS scandal, it must first remember the context for this abuse. That context leads to this White House."