Judicial Watch Bombshell Email Proves that the Weaponization of the IRS Came From Washington

I've explained previously, Lois Lerner's claim that the IRS abuse scandal was the work of a few "rogue" agents out in Cincinnati never made any sense. The workers involved are unionized. Unionized workers tend not to be self-starters. Government workers also tend not to be self-starters. Put the two together under one roof and you have two reasons to disbelieve that the IRS office in Cincinnati weaponized itself. Someone above their level made the deliberate decision to target President Obama's critics. That person or group of people then developed the targeting plan. They disseminated that plan to the agents who would carry it out. The agents then carried it out, believing that they were doing what their superiors wanted them to do.

Bottom line: Someone in Washington is responsible for forging the IRS into a political weapon.

Thanks to Judicial Watch, we now have a better idea of who that someone is. Katie Pavlich, Townhall:

On July 6, 2012, former Director of the IRS Rulings and Agreements Division and current Manager of Exempt Organizations Guidance Holly Paz sent an email to IRS Attorney Steven Grodnitzky asking for an explanation of how tea party group applications were being handled. Grodnitzky responded by confirming the cases were being handled in Washington.

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

When the IRS targeting scandal broke last year, officials in Washington immediately pinned the blame on the Cincinnati office. This documentation proves not only that direction was coming out of Washington, but that Washington instructed Cincinnati about how to handle tea party applications.

A new email from Lois Lerner also details how BOLO lists (be on the look out) were specifically created for tea party groups or groups with issues related to government spending, debt, taxes and "how the country is being run."

"Because the BOLO only contained a brief reference to "Organizations involved with the Tea Party movement applying for exemption under 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4)" in June 2011, the EO Determinations manager asked the manager of the screening group, John Shafer [IRS Cincinnati field office manager], what criteria were being used to label cases as "tea party " cases. ("Do the applications specify/state ' tea party'? If not, how do we know applicant is involved with the tea party movement?") The screening group manager asked his employees how they were applying the BOLO's short –hand reference to "tea party." His employees responded that they were including organizations meeting any of the following criteria as falling within the BOLO's reference to "tea party" organizations: "1. 'Tea Party', 'Patriots' or '9/12 Project' is referenced in the case file. 2. Issues include government spending, government debt and taxes. 3. Educate the public through advocacy/legislative activities to make America a better place to live. 4. Statements in the case file that are critical of the how the country is being run. . . " Lerner wrote on April 2, 2013. "So, we believe we have provided information that shows that no one in EO "developed" the criteria. Rather, staff used their own interpretations of the brief reference to "organizations involved with the Tea Party movement," which was what was on the BOLO list."

Judicial Watch also found the IRS put red and orange alert symbols on tea party issues for heightened awareness. Here are two slides from a "Heightened Awareness Presentation" used at the IRS.

Pavilch notes that the IRS was responding to Democrat Sen. Carl Levin, who gave speeches specifically calling on the agency to investigate tea party groups. The agency then did that. Then the Democrats briefly pretended that the scandal was an outrage, before President Obama himself dismissed it as "phony."

Above and beyond that, Judicial Watch has once again succeeded in obtaining documents regarding a major scandal when Congress with all of its committees could not. The Obama administration is clearly withholding evidence. The only question on that front is, what are they still hiding from us?