IRS Officials In DC Involved In Targeting Conservatives
New reports by the Washington Post and other outlets reveal that efforts by the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative groups attempting to gain tax-exempt status were not just the work of IRS officials in Cincinnati. New evidence has been given that the road not only leads to the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California, but also leads higher up--to Washington, D.C.
IRS employees who worked in Cincinnati admitted that there was a task force in Washington that oversaw their applications. This conflicts with the version of events offered by Lois G. Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, who had stated last Friday that it was a group of “front-line people” working in Cincinnati that pursued groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9/12” in their names.
Ron Bell, an IRS employee, revealed to a lawyer who was acting on behalf of a conservative group focused on voter fraud that the application was being reviewed in Washington, according to the Post. In addition, there were several instances in which IRS officials in Washington and California acted aggressively against conservative groups, asking about their voter outreach and other activities.
Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer pursuing the IRS for their delay in granting tax-exempt status to True The Vote, said, “For the IRS to say it was some low-level group in Cincinnati is simply false.”
Republican congressional aides who have been briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) asserted that the IRS was targeting conservative groups from the highest levels of the IRS as far back as May 2012, earlier than has been admitted.
Douglas Shulman, commissioner for the IRS in 2012, heard from TIGTA about the actions of the Cincinnati office in May 2012. His deputy and the agency’s current acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, also knew what was going on.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, told the Post:
I wrote to the IRS three times last year after hearing concerns that conservative groups were being targeted. In response to the first letter I sent with some of my colleagues, Steven Miller, the current Acting IRS Commissioner, responded that these groups weren’t being targeted. Knowing what we know now, the IRS was at best being far from forth coming, or at worst, being deliberately dishonest with Congress.