Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices
were involved in the targeting of 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.
IRS employees in Cincinnati also told conservatives seeking the status of “social welfare” groups that a task force in Washington was overseeing their applications, according to interviews with the activists.
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.
“I wrote to the IRS three times last year
after hearing concerns that conservative groups were being targeted,” Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Monday. “In response to the first letter I sent with some of my colleagues, Steven Miller, the current Acting IRS Commissioner, responded that these groups weren’t being targeted
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday that the White House counsel’s office learned of an upcoming IRS inspector’s general report on April 22
as part of a routine notification, but had not received access to the report.
Although some of the groups were explicitly labeled “tea party” or “patriot,” others that came under intense scrutiny were focused on challenging the Affordable Care Act
— known by many as Obamacare — or the integrity of federal elections.
In a June 3, 2011, letter to the IRS, Mitchell questioned the agency’s motivations for delaying recognition of one of her clients who had filed nearly two years earlier, writing, “Is the [group’s] opposition to Obamacare and the takeover of America’s healthcare system by the government the reason that this application has been held up
and not approved?”
Catherine Engelbrecht, president of the Houston-based True the Vote, first filed for tax-exempt status in July 2010. At one point, Engelbrecht — who is still awaiting a determination from the IRS regarding her voting rights organization and a separate tea party group, King Street Patriots — said an IRS employee informed her: I'm just doing what Washington is telling me to do.
I’m just asking what they want me to ask.”
The IRS did not respond to requests for comment Monday