Sunday, May 19, 2013

Obama's IRS Targets Conservative Groups-Leaks Info

IRS Released Confidential Info on Conservative Groups to ProPublica 

"ProPublica on Monday reported that the same IRS division that targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny during the 2012 election cycle provided the investigative-reporting organization with confidential applications for tax-exempt status.
That revelation contradicts previous statements from the agency and may represent a violation of federal guidelines. Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS sector that reviews tax-exemption applications, told a congressional oversight committee in April 2012 that IRS code prohibited the agency from providing information about groups that had not yet been approved.
Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) had asked Lerner in March 2012 to provide a list of all organizations that the IRS had subjected to special scrutiny.
(Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)
Lerner replied that she could not legally reveal information about groups that were not approved and that identifying targeted applicants that were already approved would require additional work, specifically a “manual review of each file.” She did not identify any of the organizations.
Below is an excerpt of Lerner’s response:
“Section 6104(a) of the Code permits public disclosure of an application for recognition of tax exempt status and supporting materials only after the organization has been recognized as exempt. Consequently, we cannot provide a list of organizations that have received [additional scrutiny] from the IRS, until those applications have been approved.”
ProPublica reported that the Lerner’s division released “nine pending confidential applications of conservatives groups” in response to a request from the investigative-reporting organization for the applications of 67 nonprofits in November 2012. "
Soros's Open Society Funded Propublica

Planted question gambit backfires on IRS officials

"It was an unusual way to deliver bad news, even in a town known for its selective leaks, Friday-night news dumps and wag-the-dog distractions.
The Internal Revenue Service, apparently determined to get out ahead of an inspector general report critical of its handling of tax exemptions for Tea Party groups, came up with a plan: Lois Lerner, the official responsible for the tax-exempt division, would publicly apologize in response to a question at the American Bar Association conference in Washington.
Details of the now-infamous planted question emerged Friday after acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller admitted the gambit under questioning from members of the House Ways and Means Committee.
STORY: IRS chief denies politics drove Tea Party screening
It was the day after Lerner had testified to Congress last week, failing once again to disclose the extent of the Tea Party targeting even under direct questioning. The damning inspector general report would come out any day, and Lerner and Miller wanted to figure out a way to disclose the news publicly.
Miller testified about the thought process behind the release strategy Friday. "Now that the (inspector general) report was finalized, now that we knew all the facts, now that we had responded in writing and everything was done, did it make sense for us to start talking about this in public," he said.
The plan, he said, was to simultaneously notify Congress, but that never happened."

IRS cases were referred to ‘Group 7822’

Read more here:
The Internal Revenue Service diverted applications for tax-exempt status from tea party and like-minded organizations to a special track known as Group 7822 for special scrutiny, according to transcripts of an interview by congressional interrogators with a key IRS official.

The lengthy interview with John Shafer, a senior manager in the screening department of the IRS division in charge of tax-exempt designations, was shared with reporters by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
Staffs from several congressional committees have been interviewing employees in the Cincinnati-based IRS office that handles applications for exempt organization status.
Cummings’ aim was to refute assertions by the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., that the special scrutiny was part of a Washington-based conspiracy. Cummings, the top Democrat on the committee, said the transcript of five hours of interviews on June 9 “debunks conspiracy theories about how the IRS first started reviewing these cases.”
Issa said he was “deeply disappointed” in Cummings. He said Cummings “has wrongly argued that questions about IRS conduct are somehow not legitimate. His own previous release of excerpts from this very same transcript undermines his claims that the committee is somehow trying to keep some specific revelation from public view.”
The IRS transcript helped fill in blanks about information that was generally known but not well understood. For example, Shafer confirmed that his boss, Holly Paz, was present when a Treasury Department auditor queried him about treatment of tea party applications. “I wasn’t sure why she was there,” he said. Shafer said her presence did not change his answers.
Shafer described himself as a conservative Republican and explained how applications that met criteria that the IRS has since called inappropriate were selectively screened. The criteria included buzzwords such as constitution, Bill of Rights and other tea party themes referring to the Founding Fathers. These words caused applications to be pulled aside and sent to what’s called Group 7822. He did not say how the criteria were developed or by whom.
He said the tea party cases were called “emerging issues” by agency officials, apparently because they had received media attention.
“Each case is again reviewed and the determination is made on the facts and circumstances within that case,” he said. Asked what caused an emerging issue, “I 100 percent do not know, OK?” he answered. “What I would do is go into the electronic system and I would transfer these cases to Group 7822.”

Other Blogs on the IRS Scandal

Democrats Justify Using IRS to Target Political Opponents

Targeting Conservatives: An IRS Political Timeline