Shulman said he first learned that something was happening in the spring of 2012.
He said that at that time, he learned that IRS workers were using a list to help decide which groups seeking tax-exempt status should get special attention and knew the term "tea party" was on that list. But he said he didn't know what other words were on that list or the scope and severity of the activity.
For more than a year, from 2011 through the 2012 election, members of Congress repeatedly asked Shulman about complaints from tea party groups that they were being harassed by the IRS.
Shulman's responses, usually relayed by a deputy, did not acknowledge that agents had ever targeted tea party groups for special scrutiny. At a congressional hearing March 22, 2012, Shulman was adamant in his denials.
"There's absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people" who apply for tax-exempt status, Shulman said at the House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing.
Shulman said [today] he didn't later tell lawmakers about the targeting because he didn't have full information about the situation.
"I had a partial set of facts," Shulman said.