Wall Street Journal: IRS Targeting Directed from Washington D.C.

Ruh Roh. As predicted, the IRS underlings are starting to talk, just in time for today’s hearing in Rep. Darryl Issa’s (R-CA) Oversight Committee. Today’s Wall Street Journal report is hardly a surprise, particularly given Lois Lerner’s history as a federal bully who vowed to “get” U.S. Senate candidate Al Salvi back when she was with the Federal Election Commission. Still, these latest revelations make it increasingly difficult for Obama administration apologists to claim that this extremely disturbing, and probably illegal, activity resulted from “low level” “rogue” employees in Ohio. From the WSJ article:

Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010.

Transcripts of the interviews, viewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, appear to contradict earlier statements by top IRS officials, who have blamed lower-level workers in Cincinnati.

The interview transcripts suggest it began with a search for tea-party groups by name among applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status. The Cincinnati employee who conducted the search, Gary Muthert, said he started gathering applications in March 2010, at the request of an unidentified local manager, who allegedly told him that “Washington, D.C., wanted some cases,” according to the transcripts. Mr. Muthert first heard of tea-party applications from another Cincinnati employee.

Elizabeth Hofacre of the Cincinnati office told investigators from Darryl Issa’s House Oversight Committee that she was essentially a “front person,” who was taking direction from IRS Washington attorney Carter Hull.

Ms. Hofacre said she was outraged last month when IRS higher-ups, including Lois Lerner, then the head of the IRS tax-exempt division, blamed the problem on employees in Cincinnati. “I was furious,” Ms. Hofacre told interviewers. “It looked like Lois Lerner was putting it on us.”

In March 2010, Mr. Muthert was among the first IRS employees to start selecting and setting aside the tea-party applications for extra scrutiny, according to the transcripts.

In his interview with congressional investigators, he said a local manager—whose name was redacted in the transcripts—asked him to find all the tea-party applications in the office’s files, both pending and closed. The manager asked him to use the phrase “tea party” to conduct the search.

Around the same time, the local manager “said Washington, D.C., wanted seven” cases, Mr. Muthert said in the transcript. That month, he said, he “batched up” seven of the cases for “EO Technical,” a unit of the Exempt Organizations Division in Washington, then headed by Ms. Lerner, according to his interview.

Around May of 2010, Mr. Muthert said, another local official asked him to locate a couple more applications to send to Washington. Over the next two months, Mr. Muthert said, he located about 40 tea-party cases after expanding his search to include the terms “patriot” and “9/12.”

Ms. Hofacre said “[A]ll I remember saying and thinking is, ‘This is ridiculous,'” referring to  the runaround the targeted groups were getting. She eventually got so frustrated with that and the “micromanagement” that she sought and received a transfer in the fall of 2010.

As noted here, the timing of this activity seems amazingly coincidental. The One berates the Supreme Court in a misleading rant, and within a couple of weeks, this activity begins.

Another piece of the puzzle that needs to be added is the reason for former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman’s 157 visits to the White House. The Daily Caller points out that “Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS official currently in charge of overseeing the agency’s implementation of Obamacare, has logged 165 recorded visits to the White House 165 times since 2011,” so between the two of them, these officials were at the White House over 300 times. We need to know why. Even Chris Matthews doesn’t believe that they discussing the Easter Egg roll.

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