An investigation by Cincinnati Fox 19 reporter Ben Swann finds that Obama Administration claims that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeting of conservative groups was the work of two “rogue” low-level employees in Cincinnati, Ohio, strain credulity and are “falling apart.”
Swann reports that so far six IRS agents working out of the Cincinnati office–which is the central hub for processing tax-exempt applications–have been identified as sending scrutinizing letters to conservative groups. These include:
- Mitchel Steele-IRS Agent
- Carly Young-IRS Agent
- Joseph Herr-IRS Agent
- Stephen Seok-IRS Supervisor
- Liz Hofacre-IRS Agent
- Ms. Richards (full name unknown)-IRS Agent
These agents report to different managers, with a territory manager overseeing those managers.
Swann explains how the process works:
When an application for tax exempt status comes into the IRS, agents have 270 days to work through that application. If the application is not processed within those 270 days it automatically triggers flags in the system. When that happens, individual agents are required to input a status update on that individual case once a month, every month until the case is resolved.
Keep in mind, at least 300 groups were targeted out of Cincinnati alone. Those applications spent anywhere from 18 months to nearly 3 years in the system and some still don’t have their non-profit status. 300 groups multiplied by at least 18 months for each group, means thousands of red flags would have been generated in the system.
So who in the chain of command would have received all these flags? The answer, according to the IRS directory, one woman in Cincinnati, Cindy Thomas, the Program Manager of the Tax Exempt Division. Because all six of our IRS workers have different individual and territory managers, Cindy Thomas is one manager they all have common.
It turns out Cindy Thomas’ name is one we have heard before. The independent journalism group ProPublica says in November of 2012 they had requested information on conservatives groups that had received non-profit status.
Cindy Thomas, says Swann, is the highest-ranking employee in the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Department in Cincinnati.
Democrats unleashed a barrage of pointed questions to IRS officials on Wednesday in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) said if witnesses today are not more forthcoming and continue to stonewall the committee, “it will lead to a special prosecutor” in order “to get to the bottom of this.” He warned that “there will be hell to pay if that’s the route we go down.”
“It is possible that criminal activity may have occurred,” said Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.