1961 December 20

Justice Department Orders IRS to Investigate 18 Right-Wing Political Groups


The Justice Department on this day directed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate 18 right-wing political groups for possible violation of income tax laws. One month later a left-wing group was added to the list, in an apparent effort to create the appearance of political “balance.” The IRS investigations were prompted by several statements made by President John F. Kennedy attacking right-wing groups in November 1961. At a press conference, on November 29, 1961, Kennedy again raised the issue, prompting the Justice Department order to the IRS to investigate right-wing political groups.

Kennedy’s abuse of power through the IRS is documented in the Senate Church Committee reports (see below). President Richard Nixon, who also misused the IRS against his critics, always defended himself by arguing that Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had also done it.

Learn more from the Senate Church Committee report on the misuse of the IRS (pp. 835–920): http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports_book3.htm

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