WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A misfired email from a U.S. Internal Revenue Service employee in Cincinnati alerted a number of Washington IRS officials that extra scrutiny was being place on conservative groups in July 2010, a year earlier than previously acknowledged, according to interviews with IRS workers by congressional investigators.
Transcripts of the interviews, reviewed by Reuters on Thursday, provided new details about Washington managers’ awareness of the heightened scrutiny applied by front-line IRS agents in Cincinnati to applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups with words like “Tea Party” in their names.
A political furor over the practice has engulfed the tax agency for nearly a month since a senior IRS official publicly apologized for it at a conference. Since then, the IRS’ chief has been fired by President Barack Obama, the FBI has mounted an investigation and Congress has held numerous hearings.
The transcripts show that in July 2010, Elizabeth Hofacre, an IRS official in Cincinnati who was coordinating “emerging issues” for the agency’s tax-exempt unit, was corresponding with Washington-based IRS tax attorney Carter Hull.
In April 2010 Hofacre had been put in charge of handling tax-exempt status applications from conservative groups by her Cincinnati supervisor.