IRS Scandal Deepens, Agency Boss Knew of Tea Party Targets

The targeting of Tea Party groups just got a lot worse. While an IRS official admitted on Fridy to what we already knew — that it had singled out groups with “Tea Party,” “patriot,” and “9/12” for additional scrutiny — the Washington Post reports that the concerted effort to target these groups reached the highest levels of the agency:

Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.
details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration ­(TIGTA) on the details of their reviews.

Then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee who stepped down in November, received a briefing from the TIGTA about what was happening in the Cincinnati office in May 2012, the aides said. His deputy and the agency’s current acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, also learned about the matter that month, the aides said.

The officials did not share details with Republican lawmakers who had been demanding to know whether the IRS was targeting conservative groups, Republicans said.

It doesn’t end there either. IRS workers in the Cincinnati office, where the targeting of these groups supposedly began, sent documents containing confidential information to ProPublica, a website that pushes transparency, including applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status.

“In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups,” noted ProPublica in a post on its website late yesterday afternoon. “Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public.”

Realizing how this scandal justifies some of the criticisms of his administration, President Barack Obama expressed outrage during a press conference on Monday and promised that those who were complicit in the scandal will be held accountable. Likewise, Republicans in Congress have blasted the IRS over the scandal and will hold hearings on the matter as early as this week.

As with Benghazi and the string of scandals that have come out of this administration, just imagine if the IRS had targeted Leftist groups during the Bush Administration. MSNBC would have had a field day with it, and understandably so.

While conservatives and libertarians are frequently slammed for distrust of government institutions, this developing story somewhat justifies our skepticism and leaves many questions about whether this was more of a concerted effort to harass political opponents of President Obama.

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