05/16/2013 08:26 am ET Updated Jul 16, 2013

Expand Holder's IRS Investigation to All Voter Intimidation as Civil Rights' Violations


Well, well, well, well... lookie here. Republicans are (feigning) apoplexy over what still appears to be a fairly reasonable set of computer search terms the IRS established to determine if purported "social welfare" organizations deserved donor secrecy and tax-exempt status, aka 501(c)4 in tax code lingo.

Credit MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell for revealing that none of these groups -- right, left, center, up, down -- should have been granted this status in the first place because the law says that such an organization must be devoted exclusively to social welfare, but the IRS, without legal authority, changed that to primarily in 1959. Nonetheless, if it turns out that that a White House official or Obama campaign staffer instructed the IRS to focus on right-wing groups to harass them, then I reverse my current judgment.

Think of it. I recently finished a dialogue with right-wing commentators on my post comparing background checks for guns (to them, bad) with background checks for voter registration (to them, good) in which they asserted there is no Constitutional right to vote, even against evidence I provided, e.g., in the XXVI Amendment stating the right of citizens 18 years and older to vote shall not be abridged because of age.

Now, faster than one can say "Rick Scott," the right-wing asserts that there is a right to vote, so precious that people who interfere with that right by choosing certain computer search terms should go to jail. Otherwise, there was no civil "right" the IRS search terms could have violated.

If nothing else, then,this IRS flap has established the right-wing's belief that there is, indeed, a right to vote in the Constitution. That makes it: law/history/reason: 1; right-wing: 0.

Now that we are all in violent agreement about that, perhaps we should address some much clearer voting rights' violations that occurred in the 2012 election.

Let us not forget the voter ID laws so that "Mitt Romney can win Pennsylvania," the long lines in minority districts in Florida, purging of voter rolls, reduction of early-voting days. These schemes violate U.S. Code, Title 18, §§241 and 242.

Immediately after the 2012 elections, in part motivated by the President's victory speech, I urged that the Justice Department take those acts for what they were, violations of peoples' civil rights. In that post I noted that §242 explicitly states that operating "under color of law," or being a government official, provides no exemption for potential criminal penalties that can include life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

The American system of justice will soon be on trial. Taking action against voter intimidation and suppression would mean bringing some very big cheese to the "big house" -- e.g., the Ohio Secretary of State, the Pennsylvania Speaker of the Assembly, the Florida governor, various state legislators, Republican state party officials, ALEC and its sponsors, and so forth.

The IRS investigation, by contrast, will likely involve only some mid-level government employees without bank accounts to hire pricey attorneys, and with no public behind them.

It would be a travesty, and another indictment of the American justice system, if the elite were not punished for acts violating voters' civil right to vote that they have openly admitted and the mid-level employees were prosecuted, if they are, just for doing their jobs.

The right-wing is screaming at Eric Holder to investigate potential civil rights' violations by IRS officials.

He should take them up on their entreaties, and raise the ante by investigating all the voter suppression and intimidation during the 2012 election.

A special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate and prosecute the full range of voter suppression and intimidation that occurred during the 2012 election in potential violation of US Code Title 18, §§241and 242 designed to interfere, prevent or injure anyone's civil right to vote. The prosecutor will likely find such groups as "Truth-the-Vote," ALEC, the Koch Brothers, various state officials, state Republican party members guilty.

Why should an IRS agent doing his/her job be any more culpable than a Secretary of State who went out of his way to try to deny people the right to vote?