by WorldTribune Staff, July 29, 2016
Top IRS officials knew the agency was targeting conservatives because of their ideology and political affiliation two years before disclosing it to Congress and the public, according to a Judicial Watch report released on July 28.
“Senior IRS officials knew that agents were targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny as early as 2011,” the report said.
Lois Lerner revealed the targeting in May 2013 when she responded to a planted question at an American Bar Association conference.
According to Judicial Watch, which obtained new documents from the FBI through a federal court order, then-acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller wrote Lerner’s response: “They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate.”
“These new smoking-gun documents show Obama FBI and Justice Department had plenty of evidence suggesting illegal targeting, perjury, and obstruction of justice,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
“Both the FBI and Justice Department collaborated with Lois Lerner and the IRS to try to prosecute and jail Barack Obama’s political opponents. These FBI documents show the resulting compromised investigation looked the other way when it came to Obama’s IRS criminality.”
In the new documents, one senior tax law specialist details the targeting: “The case seemed to be pulled because of the applicant’s political affiliation and screening is not supposed to occur that way … [Redacted] said he thought the cases were being pulled based upon political affiliations.” And IRS senior official Nancy Marks, appointed by Miller to conduct an internal investigation stated, “Cincinnati was categorizing cases based on name and ideology, not just activity.”
The FBI documents show that IRS official Holly Paz and others were informed in the late spring and summer of 2011 that Cincinnati agents were using “BOLO” (Be On the Look Out) briefing guides that instructed them to be “looking at cases using the Tea Party term.”
“She read how the case was screened and it was not because of the organization’s activity. The case seemed to be pulled because of the applicant’s political affiliation and screening is not supposed to occur that way.… She wanted to alert the managers about the way the cases were being pulled…. [Redacted] said he thought the cases were being pulled based upon political affiliations.… [Redacted] then went to tell [Redacted] said he would follow up on the issue and would let HOLLY PAZ know this was possibly occurring. This occurred in the mid to late March or April 2011 timeframe.”
An interview with unidentified IRS technical advisor who reported directly to Lerner revealed that “[Redacted] attended a meeting in the summer of 2011. She was not invited, but she was talking to LERNER about something else in the office when LERNER mentioned that it would be interesting for her to attend … Only people from Washington, D.C. were in the room, to include HOLLY PAZ … At the meeting, it was disclosed that one of the ways Cincinnati was looking for cases was using the “Tea Party” term. They were calling the body of cases involving political activity “Tea Party” cases. The concern was that the IRS had put a label on the cases that would be problematic.”
According to Judicial Watch, the documents also reveal that the FBI investigated why Paz, the IRS Acting Director of Rulings and Agreements in 2011, sat in on numerous interviews of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) with lower level IRS employees and if her presence improperly influenced the employees’ responses to investigators’ questions. The documents repeatedly state, “Other than the auditors, the only person present during the [Redacted] interview was HOLLY PAZ.”
The Judicial Watch report also revealed that “the documents contain two separate lengthy FBI interviews with Lois Lerner, the first in October 2013 and the second in July 2014. Both interviews came after Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination before the House Oversight Committee in May 2013. By answering questions under oath in her FBI interviews, Lerner seemed to undermine her earlier Fifth Amendment-based refusal to testify to Congress, since witnesses generally cannot invoke the right in one instance and not another.”
The House voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for her refusal to testify.
The FBI documents also contain an interview in which Miller reveals that former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman “very likely misled Congress” in his March 22, 2012, testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee when he said, “there is absolutely no targeting.” According to the FBI report on the Miller interview, “In February or March, MILLER talked to SHULMAN about the development letters.” The “development letters” were letters sent by the IRS primarily to targeted conservative groups seeking what the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) later termed “inappropriate” information about websites and donors.