IRS staff members were “acutely aware” in 2010 that the president wanted to see conservative groups targeted, according to an interim report being circulated by congressional investigators.
The report stops short of identifying any politicians who may have ordered the harassment of Tea Party and other conservative groups applying for nonprofit status, but it says oddly that agents of the IRS were “aware” that they should single out such groups and forward many of them to a particular office.
Further, the report strangely says that the agents were encouraged by media reports making fun of the Tea Party and other conservatives.
The report prepared by staffers for Rep. Darrell Issa and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee quoted two IRS sources as saying that conservative groups were targeted because “they were likely to attract media attention” that would be unfavorable to President Obama.
In the report, IRS officials deny any political motivation or receiving orders from any politician. But the investigators show that the IRS at the very least was taking “cues” from politicians’ comments in the media when they designed a program to screen out conservative applications and forward some of them to headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The groups that were targeted had their applications delayed for months or even years, and they were blocked by numerous rounds of paperwork beyond what was normally required for nonprofit applications, including extensive questionnaires that asked intrusive and possibly illegal questions such as information about donors, speakers, members’ financial and personal data, and in at least one prolife group’s case, the content of group members’ prayers.
Democratic staffers on the Ways and Means Committee are still running around saying there is no evidence of political motivation, claiming liberal groups were targeted too (they weren’t).
The IRS targeting was politically motivated on its face, so saying it wasn’t is like saying water isn’t wet.
There are obviously efforts going on to cover up the truth. Low-level federal employees don’t just start discriminating against a swath of Americans and sending their applications to headquarters for vetting because they saw a story on CNN or the Huffington Post.
This had to come from higher up, and it’s a safe bet that at some point, the White House or someone in Congress met with someone from the IRS and made them “acutely aware” of the president’s wishes.
This is one more “phony scandal” that isn’t going away.