Brietbart News, LLC announced Tuesday that they are being audited by the IRS. This is absolutely not a surprise to anyone who has paid attention to their business practices, but of course the website proclaims that the whole thing is a sinister plot by the Obama administration to shut them up. If this sounds familiar, that’s because conservative pseudo-intellectual Dinesh D’Souza was saying basically the same thing not too long ago before he pleaded guilty.

Nevertheless, Breitbart.com got an immediate boost from Senator Ted Cruz (R-Wingnuttistan), who published an open letter to the IRS commissioner asking “how many other news organizations have been audited since President Obama has been in office?” But this is the wrong question to ask. Instead, Cruz should be asking how many news organizations have as rich a history of shady finances and opaque operations as Breitbart News does.

Start with the way the organization’s namesake screwed his ad partners over in 2006 and then settled with them for $55,000. Although it has been impossible for me to confirm, sources indicate that the settlement over ‘Next Gen’ may have induced Andrew Breitbart to distribute content on his “Big” sites — Big Journalism, Big Hollywood, etc. — for the next six years so that he could avoid financial liabilities related to the settlement.

It’s worth noting that the IRS is reviewing the site’s finances for 2012, which is the single most interesting period of time they could investigate, as it’s the year Breitbart died in the middle of an important transition.

A proud C student, Breitbart made sure he was the smartest person in the room by hiring low-rent people who would eat from his hand. He was also an authoritarian whose hand guided everything. This became readily apparent shortly after he died in 2012, when the ‘Big’ sites were all suddenly changed to Breitbart.com without redirecting the old URLs, cutting off search engine and social media traffic to the old content.

This move had been poorly-planned before his death, and was poorly-executed afterwards. Not only was it a preview of mismanagement to come, my sources suggest the switch was made to avoid tax liabilities related to the way Andrew had avoided his contractual liabilities after 2006.

The Next Gen lawsuit is also interesting because it names Andrew’s wife as a co-defendant. He died intestate, having never bothered to give her any kind of legal cover, so she remains the responsible party to answer legal action against his estate. And his fortune might have been considerable in 2012: Andrew reportedly collected almost $10 million in venture capital funding from two big donors a few months before his death, but it’s not clear what happened to that money, and the organization has done everything possible to keep anyone from finding out.

Indeed, that money might be unaccountably gone, since profiteering is the rule at Breitbart. When was the last time you heard of a news channel whose staff charged people to cover their events?

Finally, Sen. Cruz might also want to look at the way Breitbart News treats its employees, because the IRS could be investigating accusations by a whistleblower. In his letter to Koskinen, Cruz complains about the “burdensome paperwork” that all such IRS audits require. Look at how many of these items are related to payroll:

…all of its organizational documents, financial records, W-2s, W-4s, 1099s, and K-1s filed, personal income tax returns for each member of the company, payroll tax forms, information regarding properties and assets acquired by the company, bank statements, and array of other records documenting revenues, expenses, and depreciation costs. (Emphasis mine)

Contracts at Breitbart News are notoriously one-sided affairs bound in oppressive confidentiality agreements. Employees who wish to pursue other opportunities must often sue the organization to be let go. Writers have also reportedly been paid as contractors instead of employees, even though they were required to maintain a presence on the site just like regular staff. Morale is low because plagiarists are rewarded better than reporters.

A violation of wage laws related to the company’s finances would be enough to spark an IRS audit at any newspaper or TV news studio in America. So would an audit on an outside agency — like an employee-‘contractor,’ for example. In his letter, Sen. Cruz doesn’t even bother to ask whether this investigation has been triggered by another audit, which is what you might expect with such sketchy practices abounding.

Andrew Breitbart never did follow the same ethical or journalistic rules as “traditional media,” and it is not inconceivable that he evaded taxes or that his electronic heirs broke the rules somewhere in 2012. So instead of allowing Sen. Cruz to invent another IRS persecution conspiracy theory, reporters on this story should ask him to explain how Breitbart News is so special that it must be allowed to operate unlike a legitimate media organization — or for that matter, a legitimate business of any kind.

  • Bill Schmalfeldt

    Where have I heard this before? “I’m being victimized by liberal terrorists! Send me money!”

    • I think it’s marked as “template number one” at the Breitbart news room.

    • Exactly. This sounds like the Gov. McDonnell case. All you heard from the Right was he was being victimized by the Obama liberals. Turns out, no, he and his wife were as corrupt as they come.

  • Haradanohime

    After the fiasco Cruz had in the middle east, you would think that he would learn to keep his beak shut. But NOPE! OBAMA is out to get them! Even though I don’t care for things happening in our current president’s term, he is not the only one to blame. In fact, Cruz has been probably a bigger thorn than Boener if that’s possible. During the government shut down, didn’t Cruz say if the House passed some such thing he would Vote for it and instead voted against the thing he said he would vote for?

  • TerriK

    I think Andrew Breitbart is alive and well living outside the US. He had financial problems before he “died”,,, Made it look like Obama had him offed. He did it to save his butt. and hopefully get Romney elected. Unfortunately didnt work. Took the 10 mil with him I guess.. I miss Andrew.

    • I want to see St. Andrew’s long-form death certificate.

      • TerriK

        Have you seen the interview of eye witness to Andrew Breitbart’s death Chris Lassiter? On you tube you can search Paul Huebl investigator and it shows this Chris wearing a golf hat with St Andrews Scotland Old Court on it. Chris seems like he is trying not to laugh sometimes. I think Chris may be Andrew’s friend. Just seems fishy to me. Chris Lassiter is no where to be found now Think Brietbart went to France or Brazil?

        • He’s hanging out with zombie JFK.

          • Haradanohime

            And Elvis!

          • TerriK

            You mean Teddy Kennedy..with shirt tail out and no pants.

  • Crispus Attucks

    Matt Osborne has spent too much time on his knees in the park men’s room and ingesting those body fluids has affected his brain. Another Obama teabagger, slurp, slurp http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=teabagging