IRS Honchos Knew of Tea Party Targeting—Last Year

As reports conflict about how IRS handled big groups like Rove's Crossroads
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2013 4:38 AM CDT
Updated May 14, 2013 7:59 AM CDT
IRS Chiefs Knew About Tea Party Targeting Last Year
The IRS singled out groups with "Tea Party" or "patriot" in their names.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Did the IRS lie to Congress about Tea Party groups being singled out for extra scrutiny? The agency has admitted that acting Commissioner Steven Miller knew about the targeting by May last year, but senior Republican lawmakers say Miller didn't tell them about it, even when they contacted him to express concerns about conservative groups being singled out, the Wall Street Journal reports. Investigators say Miller's predecessor Douglas Shulman—who testified before Congress that "there's absolutely no targeting"—was aware of the targeting at the same time as Miller.

  • As reports surfaced that the scandal went beyond the Tea Party, some conservative organizations said they were seriously considering suing the IRS, Politico reports. "Given the sheer scope of maleficence at the IRS, there may be a legal recourse," a lawyer for a half-dozen targeted groups says.
  • Lois Lerner, the IRS official who oversees tax-exempt groups, blames the targeting on the agency's Cincinnati office, but the effort went a lot further than that, with officials at IRS headquarters in Washington and at least two other offices involved, according to documents obtained by the Washington Post. Several congressional panels plan to investigate, and the House Ways and Means Committee has set a hearing for Friday morning.
  • While the IRS was targeting small Tea Party groups, it wasn't nitpicking large groups like Karl Rove's Crossroads or the pro-Obama Priorities USA (both of which also run super PACs that spent even more on elections), the New York Times reports. More than a dozen complaints from government watchdog groups asking whether such organizations were violating their tax-exempt status through political spending were ignored, while the smaller Tea Party organizations—which had small budgets and were much less likely to be buying political ads—saw delays with their applications as they were asked question after question. But that doesn't mean Crossroads completely skated through: It was one of nine groups whose confidential info the IRS leaked to ProPublica.
(Read more IRS stories.)

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