IRS' Top Lawyer Implicated in Targeting Scandal

Wednesday, 17 Jul 2013 11:26 PM

By Matthew Auerbach

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In a letter released Wednesday, four Republican congressman charged the Internal Revenue Service’s chief counsel’s office and a former agency official with assisting in the delay of applications for tax-exempt status from tea party groups, reports the Hill.

The letter, written by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., and Rep. Jim Jordan R-Ohio, makes the claim that the office of the IRS’s top lawyer took special interest in tea party cases in particular, continuing to review applications even after a veteran specialist said enough information was available to make a decision.

USA Today reports the order to send tea party applications to the chief counsel's office came through Lois Lerner, the former head of the agency’s exempt organizations office, according to closed-door testimony of Michael Seto, who headed up a unit that consulted with IRS agents on processing applications for tax exemptions.

Seto said Lerner sent him an email in 2010 making it clear that certain tea party cases had to “go through multi-tier review, and they will eventually have to go . . . to the chief counsel's office.”

After months of inaction, the chief counsel's office eventually sent them back seeking more information.

The IRS chief counsel is one of two presidential appointees at the IRS.

In the letter, the GOP lawmakers ask acting IRS chief Danny Werfel to expedite delivery of already requested documents concerning conversations the chief counsel had with Treasury’s general counsel and the White House.

“As a part of this ongoing investigation, the committees have learned that the IRS chief counsel’s office in Washington, D.C. has been closely involved in some of the applications,” the letter stated.

“Its involvement and demands for information about political activity during the 2010 election cycle appears to have caused systematic delays in the processing of tea party applications.”

The letter also requests documents related to any communications between the IRS, the Treasury Department and the White House with respect to the 2010 election and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision by July 29.

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