Cincinnati IRS Staffers Point Finger at DC on Tea Party Targeting
Two IRS staffers in the Cincinnati office told investigators in Congress that Washington DC "helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010."
The WSJ reviewed transcripts of the interviews.
Elizabeth Hofacre said her office in Cincinnati sought help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she started getting the tea-party cases in April 2010. Ms. Hofacre said Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, closely oversaw her work and suggested some of the questions asked applicants.
"I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull's influence or input," she said, according to the transcripts.
The transcripts suggest that the targeting began with a search for tea-party groups. Gary Muthert, the employee in Cincinnati who conducted the search said he "started gathering applications in March 2010, at the request of an unidentified local manager." He was told that "Washington, D.C., wanted some cases."
The interviews were conducted by both House Oversight Committee members and Ways and Means Committee members by both Republican and Democrat members.
Ms Hofacre was outraged when it became obvious Lois Lerner was going to blame Cincinnati staffers. "I was furious," Ms. Hofacre told interviewers. "It looked like Lois Lerner was putting it on us."
Steve Miller also blamed the Cincinnati office. "People in Cincinnati decided, let's start grouping these cases; let's centralize these cases."