Report: Cincinnati Agents Initiated IRS Scrutiny of Conservatives
A new report from USA Today reveals the origins of the IRS’ targeting of conservative non-profit applications by the agency. But it does not reveal why higher-ups at the IRS allowed that discrimination to continue for well over two years.
A series of emails and transcripts demonstrate that Cincinnati-based agents saw Tea Party protesters on television and informed Washington D.C. about a Tea Party group’s application for tax-exempt status. Soon, D.C. officials decided to target groups with conservative orientations. According to USA Today, “The records show that it was low-level employees in Cincinnati -- where all tax-exempt applications are processed --who first flagged Tea Party cases for review, but they engaged their managers in Washington early on.”
The initiator of the original scrutiny was IRS agent Jack Koester, who emailed his boss, John Shafer. Shafer informed his superiors in D.C., who quickly elevated it as a “high profile case.” Shafter wrote, “This case will be sent to inventory for further development. Political campaigns on behalf (of) or in opposition to any political candidate do not promote social welfare.”
A few days later, Shafer told another Cincinnati-based agent, Gary Muthert, to look up the number of Tea Party applicants. Shafer said, “No one said to make a search.” Soon, Elizabeth Hofacre, Cincinnati coordinator for emerging issues, said, “These cases were basically in a black hole.”
Shafer, who says he is a “conservative Republican,” said that he didn’t believe the White House was involved in targeting. “I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do (with it) other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development,” he added.