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Inspector General's Letter Denying Progressives Were Targeted

John Nolte already pointed this out but here is the Inspector General's full letter responding to Rep. Sander Levin of the House Ways and Means Committee about the use of "progressive" in IRS BOLO lists. I've pasted the core of the IG's response below:

TIGTA's audit report focused on criteria being used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during the period of May 2010 through May 2012 regarding allegations that certain groups applying for tax-exempt status were being targeted. We reviewed all cases that the IRS identified as potential political cases and did not limit our audit to allegations related to the Tea Party. TIGTA concluded that inappropriate criteria were used to identify potential political cases for extra scrutiny - specifically, the criteria listed in our audit report. From our audit work, we did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled "Progressives," were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited. The "Progressives" criteria appeared on a section of the "Be On the Look Out" (BOLO) spreadsheet labeled "Historical," and, unlike other BOLO entries, did not include instructions on how to refer cases that met the criteria. While we have multiple sources of information corroborating the use of Tea Party and other related criteria we described in our report, including employee interviews, e-mails, and other documents, we found no indication in any of these other materials that "Progressives" was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention.

Based on the information you flagged regarding the existence of a "Progressives" entry on BOLO lists, TIGTA performed additional research which determined that six tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 having the words "progress" or "progressive" in their names were included in the 298 cases the IRS identified as potential political cases. We also determined that 14 tax-exempt applications filed between May 2010 and May 2012 using the words "progress" or "progressive" in their names were not referred for added scrutiny as potential political cases. In total, 30 percent of the organizations we identified with the words "progress" or "progressive" in their names were processed as potential political cases. In comparison, our audit found that 100 percent of the tax-exempt applications with Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names were processed as potential political cases during the timeframe of our audit.

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released a heavily redacted list Monday which confirms what George is saying, i.e. "progressive" appears in a section labeled "Tab 2 - TAG Historical."

Finally, George's letter adds a bit more detail in response to a question about why his audit did not identify that liberal groups had also been targeted for additional scrutiny:

TIGTA did not make any characterizations of any organizations in its audit report as conservative or liberal and believes it would be inappropriate for a nonpartisan Inspector General to make such judgments. Instead, our audit focused on the testing of 296 of the 298 potential political cases (two case files were incomplete) to determine if they were selected using the actual criteria that should have been used by the IRS from the beginning to screen potential political cases. Those criteria were whether the specific applications had indications of significant amounts of political campaign intervention (a term used in Treasury's Regulations). For 69 percent of the 296 cases, TIGTA found that there were indications of significant political campaign intervention, while 31 percent of the cases did not have that evidence. We also reviewed samples of 501 (c)(4) cases that were not identified as potential political cases to determine if they should have been. We estimate that more than 175 applications were not appropriately identified as potential political cases.

TIGTA's audit report determined that certain cases were referred for potential political review because their names used terms in the IRS selection criteria. We could not tell why other organizations were selected for additional scrutiny because the IRS did not document specifically why the cases were forwarded to a team of specialists. TIGTA recommended that the IRS do so in the future.

In other words, nearly a third of the cases selected for scrutiny did not have evidence of political campaign intervention. Meanwhile 175 cases not selected for scrutiny did have evidence of campaign intervention. And since there are no records kept explaining why some are singled out and some are not, there is no way to explain why anyone was targeted. Except that is for the Tea Party/Patriot groups which were selected because of their group names.


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