Four top House Republicans have accused the Internal Revenue Service chief counsel's office of taking part in the delay in deciding on tea party applications for tax-exempt status.
Reps. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; Charles Boustany of Louisiana; and Jim Jordan of Ohio specified their charges in a letter to IRS Principal Deputy Commissioner Daniel Werfel on Wednesday
In their investigations of the IRS targeting scandal, "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 congressmen wrote.
"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 congressmen wrote.
They said the chief counsel's office looked into the tea party applications despite the judgment of long-time IRS lawyer Carter Hull — who was reviewing the applications — that enough information was available to issue a ruling.
Hull's boss Michael Seto said in an interview with investigators that Lois Lerner, IRS director of Exempt Organizations, asked for the tax-exemption applications to be sent to the office of Chief Counsel William Wilkins.
Hull told investigators that sometime in the winter of 2010-11, a senior adviser to Lerner told him the chief counsel's office would have to review the applications. This information wasn't public before Wednesday, according to The Hill
After the scandal broke in May, the IRS claimed that Wilkins didn't learn about the tea-party targeting until this year, noting that the chief counsel's office has more than 1,600 lawyers.
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