IRS Employees: We Targeted Conservative Groups on Orders from Washington
Ahead of new hearings on the IRS abuse scandal, the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee has released transcripts of depositions it has taken with IRS employees. The employees directly contradict IRS honcho Lois Lerner's claim that the targeting was merely the work of "rogue" employees in the IRS Cincinnati office.
Q: So is it your perspective that ultimately the responsible parties for the decisions that were reported by the IG are not in the Cincinnati office?
A: I don’t know how to answer that question. I mean, from an agent standpoint, we didn’t do anything wrong. We followed directions based on other people telling us what to do.
Q: And you ultimately followed directions from Washington; is that correct?
A: If direction had come down from Washington, yes.
Q: But with respect to the particular scrutiny that was given to Tea Party applications, those directions emanated from Washington; is that right?
A: I believe so.
The claim that "rogue agents" came up with the Be On the Lookout (BOLO) list never made any sense. The claim that "rogue agents" came up with the many detailed questions that conservative groups were subjected to never made any sense. The claim that "rogue agents" would come up with so much extra work for themselves, outside their normal responsibilities and outside their union contract, never made any sense. Getting unionized workers to do extra work requires the union's buy-in. Getting bureaucrats to do extra work requires orders from their superiors. That's how government works.
The IRS itself has blown Lerner's story apart, saying that as many 88 employees are being looked at. The agency is still evidently trying to contain the scandal to its lower ranks, but the deposed IRS agents say they were following orders from those above them.
Q: Did anyone else ever make a request that you send any cases to Washington?
A: [Different IRS employee] wanted to have two cases that she couldn’t ‑‑ Washington, D.C. wanted them, but she couldn’t find the paper. So she requested me, through an email, to find these cases for her and to send them to Washington, D.C.
Q: When was this, what time frame?
A: I don’t recall the time frame, maybe May of 2010.
Q: But just to be clear, she told you the specific names of these applicants.
Q: And she told you that Washington, D.C. had requested these two specific applications be sent to D.C.
A: Yes, or parts of them.
Q: Okay. So she asked you to send particular parts of these applications.
Q: And that was unusual. Did you say that?
Q: And she indicated that Washington had requested these specific parts of these specific applications; is that right?
Congress has a ways to go to prove this, and it needs to stay focused on getting at the truth before jumping to any conclusions in public, but the nature of the questions the IRS asked of its targeted groups read like political opposition research -- in other words, political campaign activity. Someone was digging for deep ideological, organizational and membership information on these groups that opposed Obama agenda. "Rogue agents" who are career government workers are not going to come up with questions like that on their own, but someone who bounced back and forth between the Obama campaign and his White House might. Several Obama confidants did that, including David Axelrod and Bob Bauer. Keep that in mind when Axelrod opines on the subject: He may have been involved in it.