This story actually could have two headlines. One is the one I used, in which the IRS abuse went much higher up in the chain than the agency or administration has admitted. The other is the source: NBC reported this.
I’m as surprised as you are. Reporter Lisa Myers must have snuck one past the goalies over there.
Anyway, here’s the story.
Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.
“At least one letter” is low-balling it. Jay Sekulow is representing 27 of the groups, and says that 15 letters that the groups received from the IRS bore Lois Lerner’s signature. Those letters asked intrusive and abusive questions. Sekulow also blows apart the “two rogue agents” meme that Lerner tried to establish.
“We’ve dealt with 15 agents, including tax law specialists — that’s lawyers — from four different offices, including (the) Treasury (Department) in Washington, D.C.,” Sekulow said. “So the idea that this is a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati is not correct.”
Among the letters were several that bore return IRS addresses other than Cincinnati, including “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.,” and the signatures of IRS officials higher up the chain. Two letters with “Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.” letterhead were signed by “Tax Law Specialist(s)” from Exempt Organizations Technical Group 1 and Technical Group 2. Lerner’s signature, which appeared to be a stamp rather than an actual signature, appeared on a letter requesting additional information from the Ohio Liberty Council Corp.
Lerner is probably a small fish in all this. I don’t know that it’ll ever be proven that the IRS abuse was Obama administration policy, but the evidence that Sekulow has collected plus the abuse that was dealt out to Catherine Engelbrecht hint very strongly that it was. You just don’t get so many executive branch agencies going after the same law-abiding person unless someone above those agencies is calling the shots.
The evidence available at this juncture points at the White House counsel’s office. That’s where Bob Bauer went after calling for the government to abuse Obama’s opponents during the 2008 campaign, both in the Democratic primary and the general election. Bauer later left the White House counsel’s office to head back to the Obama campaign, which among other things called out Romney donors and falsely accused them of breaking laws and being generally bad people. Bauer’s wife is Anita Dunn, the White House communications specialist of “I love me some Chairman Mao” infamy. The pair are the sort of people Barack Obama has always surrounded himself with: hardened ideologues, radical, and intolerant of anything that may ever get in Obama’s way. Bauer and Dunn also aren’t the type who would need marching orders to trash and abuse the president’s opponents. They’re Maoist self-starters.