The scandal broke weeks ago but IRS officials knew as early as 2010 that pro-life and conservative groups were being targeted by the Internal Revenue Service. Of course, no news broke about the scandal until after President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election victory.
As Reuters reports:
A misfired email from a U.S. Internal Revenue Service employee in Cincinnati alerted a number of Washington IRS officials that extra scrutiny was being placed on conservative groups in July 2010, a year earlier than previously acknowledged, according to interviews with IRS workers by congressional investigators.
Transcripts of the interviews, reviewed by Reuters on Thursday, provided new details about Washington managers’ awareness of the heightened scrutiny applied by front-line IRS agents in Cincinnati to applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups with words like “Tea Party” in their names.
The transcripts show that in July 2010, Elizabeth Hofacre, an IRS official in Cincinnati who was coordinating “emerging issues” for the agency’s tax-exempt unit, was corresponding with Washington-based IRS tax attorney Carter Hull.
In April 2010 Hofacre had been put in charge of handling tax-exempt status applications from conservative groups by her Cincinnati supervisor.
She was asked to summarize her initial findings in a spreadsheet and notify a small group of colleagues, including some staff in the Washington tax-exempt unit. However, she sent her email to a larger number of people in Washington by accident.
“Everybody in DC got it by mistake,” Hofacre said in the transcripts. She later clarified that she did not mean all officials but those in the IRS Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements unit.
The Cincinnati office, where IRS reviews of applications for tax-exempt status were centralized, used a “be-on-the-lookout” (BOLO) list that included the words “Tea Party” and “Patriot” for flagging applications for extra review.
Jay Sekulow, the head of the pro-life legal group ACLJ, says his firm is moving ahead with its comprehensive lawsuit against the IRS on behalf of victims, including pro-life advocates.
“The IRS spin isn’t working. There are now reports that a key Obama campaign official met with IRS leaders, just as the IRS started targeting conservative groups – singling them out for abuse and harassment simply because of their beliefs,” he said. “Yet this week, some on the Left in Congress attacked the very victims of this atrocious government abuse.”
Sekulow added: “One listed the conservative views of the targeted groups and said, “Let’s stop the charade of pretending that these are social welfare organizations.” Another said, “If [conservative groups] didn’t come in and ask for this tax break, you would have never had a question asked of you.””
“At the ACLJ, we don’t blame the victim, we sue the IRS. We’re in federal court defending the constitutional rights of more than two dozen groups. In a few days, we’ll be amending our lawsuit to add even more clients,” he continued. “We will hold the Obama Administration accountable.”
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.
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