Interviews with IRS agent suggest Tea Party targeting came from Washington

Interviews with an IRS field agent involved in the agency targeting Tea Party  groups for additional vetting appear to contradict the White House assertion  that rogue agents, not the administration, were behind the effort, according to  partial transcripts released Sunday by the House Oversight and Government Reform  Committee.

The agent in the Cincinnati office, in which the targeting took place, told  congressional investigators that he or she was told in March 2010 by a  supervisor to search for Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status and  that “Washington, D.C., wanted some cases.”

The agent said that by April the office had held up roughly 40 cases and at  least seven were sent to Washington. In addition, the agent said, a second IRS  employee asked for information on two other specific applicants in which  Washington was interested.

When asked by congressional investigators about allegations and press reports  about two agents in Cincinnati essentially being responsible for the targeting,  the agent responded:

“It’s impossible. As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We  have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue  and doing things like that could never happen. … They were basically throwing us  underneath the bus.”

The administration has denied involvement in the scandal, repeatedly saying  it was limited to the Cincinnati office.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has appeared to give conflicting  statements on the scandal including whether top White House officials knew only  of the inspector general’s probe into the targeting of politically conservative  groups or if they were told about the bombshell findings when briefed in late  April.

Carney also said the top officials decided not to tell President Obama to  avoid any possibility of the White House interfering in the investigation.

On Sunday, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House  Oversight and Government Affair Committee, accused Carney of being untruthful  about the scandal.

“Their paid liar, their spokesperson … he’s still making up things about what  happened and calling this a local rogue,” Issa said on CNN’s “State of the  Union.”

The congressman also provided the network with a copy of the transcript in  which the agent said he or she followed directions from Washington. However,  when asked if the Tea Party scrutiny came directly from Washington the agency  said “I believe so.”

Officials have also said the targeting was not politically motivated though  it appeared to last until nearly the end of the 2012 election cycle and did not  appear to target liberal-leaning political groups.

At least three congressional committees are already investigating the  scandal, which widened last week to include revelations about the agency  spending roughly $60,000 on team-building videos that spoofed the TV shows “Star  Trek” and “Gilligan’s Island.” And new IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel has vowed  to conduct a full investigation.

In addition, the Treasury Department’s inspector general released a  preliminary report this weekend that shows the IRS spent about $50 million to  hold at least 220 conferences for employees from 2010 to 2012, according to the  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, with the full report to be  released later this week.

Steve Miller, the acting IRS director when the scandal broke, resigned May 15  after Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked for his resignation.

Read more:


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

Comments are closed.