Top IRS Officials Targeted Conservative Groups, Not Just Staffers

National   Steven Ertelt   May 29, 2013   |   10:38AM    Washington, DC

New reports show top officials at the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative and pro-life groups, not just the low-level staffers IRS leaders have blamed the scandal on to this point.

As NBC News reports:

Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.

Jay Sekulow, an attorney representing 27 conservative political advocacy organizations that applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status, provided some of the letters to NBC News.  He said the groups’ contacts with the IRS prove that the practices went beyond a few “front line” employees in the Cincinnati office, as the IRS has maintained.

“We’ve dealt with 15 agents, including tax law specialists — that’s lawyers — from four different offices, including (the) Treasury (Department) in Washington, D.C.,” Sekulow said. “So the idea that this is a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati is not correct.”

Among the letters were several that bore return IRS addresses other than Cincinnati, including “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.,” and the signatures of IRS officials higher up the chain. Two letters with “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.” letterhead were signed by “Tax Law Specialist(s)” from Exempt Organizations Technical Group 1 and Technical Group 2. Lerner’s signature, which appeared to be a stamp rather than an actual signature, appeared on a letter requesting additional information from the Ohio Liberty Council Corp.

Sekulow, who worked with the office of the chief counsel of the IRS in the early 1980s as a trial lawyer representing the IRS on tax-exempt cases, said the number of groups he’s heard from, and the scope of the requests for information the IRS sent them, persuaded him “that this was not something that was just created at an agent level, that this was certainly higher up.”

After reviewing all the IRS communications his clients received, Sekulow said he believes the IRS was engaged in a coordinated and deliberate attempt to silence, or at least stifle conservative organizations, he told NBC News.

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In an email to LifeNews, Sekulow provided more information about the lawsuit the ACLJ is filing for IRS targeting victims.

“Today, we are holding the IRS accountable for its abuse,” he said. “We are filing a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of more than 20 conservative groups, demanding that the IRS cease its unconstitutional practices and compensate the groups for all damages caused by IRS abuse.”

“The fact remains: the IRS’s systematic targeting of U.S. citizens for their political beliefs is still ongoing. Since it began, the Obama Administration has failed to protect our constitutional rights,” he added. “If the Obama Administration won’t protect the Constitution, we will.”

Weeks after the IRS scandal erupted over its targeting of pro-life and conservative groups, the Internal Revenue Service took action. Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service’s director of exempt organizations, was placed on administrative leave. Before that, the agency hadn’t officially reprimanded a single staffer over it.

With the scandal concerning the IRS and its targeting of pro-life and conservative groups growing, national conservative activists held nationwide rallies at IRS offices across the country.

Reports indicate President Barack Obama’s top attorney knew in April that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting pro-life and conservative groups. The reports show Obama’s top lawyer was notified in April that the Treasury Department’s inspector general had finished an audit of the IRS over the allegations.

Obama addressed the massive IRS scandal and promised it would never happen again.

“I’ll do everything in my power to make sure this never happens again,” he promised.

James Dobson, the pro-life family advocate, disclosed that he was a victim of IRS discrimination because he spoke out against pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

In one case LifeNews has profiled, a pro-life group was told it had to promote abortion. A top pro-life legal group also informed LifeNews that cases it handled support mounting accusations that demonstrate the agency’s abuse of pro-life organizations.