But a Democratic Administration or its president does not need to issue orders or directives or make telephone calls demanding that the IRS act against conservatives. History shows that it is simply how the federal bureaucracy operates. The "smoking gun" is liberal politics as usual, and it stretches back to the Kennedy Administration.
To illustrate this point, consider an article on a left-wing website attempting to distinguish between the Obama Administration's IRS "affair" and Richard Nixon's "Watergate-era IRS scandal," The author is none other than Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who insists that what Nixon did was far worse than anything that has been done under Obama. He advised Republicans not to fall victim to "anti-Obama hysteria" and to avoid talking about Obama's impeachment.
"A principal distinction" between the use of the IRS by the Nixon and Obama Administrations, he said in his column, "is the ingredient of direct presidential involvement."
He does acknowledge that Nixon, who resigned from office because he was threatened with impeachment, "was aware that the IRS had audited him in 1961 and 1962 and presumed those audits were politically motivated by the Kennedy White House." He doesn't provide any more details, probably because he doesn't want to implicate his father, Robert F. Kennedy Sr., and his uncle, former President John F. Kennedy, in the political use of the IRS. But that is exactly what they did. In fact, they did it before Nixon, and led Nixon to believe the practice was routine.
As noted by Victory Lasky's book, It Didn't Start With Watergate, the practice of using the IRS for political purposes began with the Kennedy brothers, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, when they were President and Attorney General, respectively. Not only were Nixon and others involved in his presidential campaign audited after John F. Kennedy won the 1960 election, "tax-exempt right-wing groups" were targeted by the Kennedy Administration's IRS for special reviews and some lost their tax-exempt status.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s article focused on a "Special Service" staff of the IRS under Nixon. What he does not talk about is a special project under President Kennedy dealing with "ideological organizations." According to the staff report "Investigation of the Special Service Staff of the Internal Revenue Service," prepared for the Joint Committee on Internal Taxation in 1975, "This program apparently was stimulated by a public statement of President John F. Kennedy and also a suggestion by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy."