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May 15 2014

IRS HQ Directs Targeting of Conservative Groups

Patrice J. Lee

New emails of former IRS official Lois Lerner finally released indicate what we have known: the IRS scandal was directed from Washington, D.C. and part of a larger coordination of efforts to stymie the political activity of conservative groups.

As with ObamaCare, the President and his supporters just want us to move on. According to him, there wasn’t even a smidgen of corruption at the IRS when it comes the scandal that gave his Administration a huge black-eye about this time last year. After a year of hearings, investigations, and myriad reports from affected groups about the invasive inqueries and stall tactics used to hold up their applications for tax exempt status, we now know that the targeting wasn’t just the actions of one or two rogue IRS agents. In fact, directives from IRS headquarters drove their actions and that too was driven by pressure from a Democratic Member of Congress.

The Judicial Watch, a watchdog group managed to obtain emails that even congressional requests never received. And according to those emails

The Daily Caller reports:

The emails obtained by Judicial Watch clearly demonstrate that the targeting was based in Washington, D.C.

IRS official Holly Paz wrote a July 6, 2010 email to Washington-based IRS lawyer Steven Grodnitzky “to let Cindy and Sharon know how we have been handling Tea Party applications in the last few months.” Grodnitzky replied to the email, confirming that the Washington-based Exempt Organization Technical unit (EOT) was designing the targeting in the nation’s capital.

“EOT is working the Tea party applications in coordination with Cincy. We are developing a few applications here in DC and providing copies of our development letters with the agent to use as examples in the development of their cases,” Grodnitzky wrote.

“Chip Hull [another lawyer in IRS headquarters] is working these cases in EOT and working with the agent in Cincy, so any communication should include him as well. Because the Tea party applications are the subject of an SCR [Sensitive Case Report], we cannot resolve any of the cases without coordinating with Rob,” Grodnitzky wrote.

“Rob” is believed to be then-IRS director of rulings and agreements Rob Choi, who was based at the agency’s Washington headquarters, according to Judicial Watch.

Lois Lerner also sent an April 2013 email to IRS internal investigators shortly before the scandal broke, explaining that “staff used their own interpretations of the brief reference to ‘organizations involved with the Tea Party movement,’ which was what was on the BOLO list.”

Furthermore, there are letters from Democrat Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ permanent subcommittee on investigations, to the former IRS commissioner asking that the IRS send out additional information requests to applicant groups and provided an IRS rejection letter to a conservative group as an example of to do it.

It’s time for the Administration to answer serious questions. That IRS leadership directed the abuse of their power by discriminating against certain groups based on philosophical orientation, is distasteful. It makes one wonder how far reaching this behavior goes (i.e., other agencies) and how deeply ingrained this belief that tax-payer paid government workers can use their authority to advance one agenda or another.

To be clear, this is not a political critique. If IRS officials were stymieing the efforts of progressive groups, it would still be just as wrong.

And that a senior Member of Congress added pressure to drive this behavior is extremely disappointing but not surprising. Levin and others have a vested interest in retaining their power and position. Tea Party groups were extremely effective in the 2010 midterms and Democrats needed a new strategy to slow down their efforts – at least in part out of fear. To abuse the regulatory and oversight authority they had was pretty effective but they never thought it would be uncovered.

Kudos to Judicial Watch and other news outlets that never gave up on following this story and giving voice to the many groups who’ve rights were trampled over.

It’s time for politicians in Washington to stop using thuggery to push their agenda.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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