Judicial Watch: IRS Targeting of Conservatives Occurred in DC

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 08:43 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The egregious IRS targeting of tea party and conservative groups was based in Washington, not just at a rogue agency office in Cincinnati, according to documents released by watchdog group Judicial Watch.

In one July 6, 2012, email from Holly Paz, manager of Exempt Organizations Guidance (EOT), to IRS lawyer Steven Grodnitzky, Paz asked for an explanation of how tea party group applications were being handled.

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Grodnitzky replied that the cases were being handled in Washington, Town Hall reported Wednesday.

"EOT is working the tea party applications in coordination with Cincy. We are developing a few applications here in D.C. and providing copies of our development letters with the agent to use as examples in the development of their cases. [IRS lawyer] Chip Hull 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 [Sensitive Case Report], we cannot resolve any of the cases without coordinating with Rob."

Judicial Watch thinks "Rob" is a reference to Rob Choi, who was then the IRS' director of rulings and agreements and was based at the agency's Washington headquarters, the Daily Caller reports.

The Washington involvement is in sharp contrast to the Obama administration's narrative when the targeting scandal first erupted last year. Town Hall pointed out that Washington officials were quick to toss the Cincinnati office under the bus,
but the newly released emails tend to prove directions on tea party application handling came straight from D.C.

For example, Town Hall reported, an email from Lois Lerner details how "be on the lookout" lists – called BOLO – were created for tea party groups or those with issues related to government spending, debt, taxes, and "how the country is being run."

The new email data from Judicial Watch also show the IRS' Washington headquarters targeting was owing in part to pressure from Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, The Daily Caller reports.

Levin, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee on investigations, wrote a March 30, 2012, letter to then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman about the "urgency" of the issue of possible political activity by nonprofit applicants, the Daily Caller reported.

Levin asked if the IRS was sending out additional information requests to applicant groups, citing an IRS rejection letter to a conservative group as an example of how the IRS should be conducting its business, the Daily Caller said.

"Some entities claiming tax-exempt status as social welfare organizations under 26 U.S.C.&501(c)(4) appear to be engaged in political activities more appropriate for political organizations claiming tax-exempt status under 26 U.S.C.&527," Levin wrote, the Daily Caller reported.

"Because of the urgency of the issues involved in this matter, please provide the following information by April 20, 2012," he wrote.

Then-IRS Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller sent Levin a 16-page explanation of how IRS rules allow for the agency to "prepare individualized questions and requests."

"There is no standard questionnaire used to obtain information about political activities," Miller wrote. “Although there is a template development letter that describes the general information on the case development process, the letter does not specify the information to be requested from any particular organization . . . Consequently, revenue agents prepare individualized questions and requests for documents relevant to the application.”

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