1963 July 26

President Kennedy Urges “Aggressive” IRS Investigation of Political Groups


In the summer and fall of 1963, President John Kennedy publicly attacked right-wing political groups that had criticized his administration, and he raised questions about the tax-exempt status of these groups. On this day, he communicated privately with the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service and urged him to be “aggressive” in investigating political groups, adding that they should be on both sides of the political spectrum. Within the IRS, the effort became known as the Ideological Organizations Project. Information on the Kennedy administration’s use of the IRS is reported in the Senate Church Committee report, Book III (see below).

Kennedy’s efforts in this regard are important because similar abuses of government agencies by President Richard Nixon were part of the Articles of Impeachment against Nixon, on July 27, 1974. Democratic Party presidents, in this case Kennedy, also misused the intelligence agencies and other federal agencies.

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

For more on President Kennedy’s Civil Liberties record: Samuel Walker, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012)

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