Report: IRS officials in Washington involved in targeting Tea Party

Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington, D.C., and two other offices were also involved in targeting conservative groups for higher scrutiny, according to a report Tuesday.

The Washington Post reported that officials at IRS headquarters in the capital sent Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status a questionnaire for information on their donors and operations, including voter outreach. Similar questions were also sent to conservative groups from IRS offices in California.

ADVERTISEMENT
In one case, an IRS officer, identified by The Post as Ron Bell, informed a lawyer for a conservative group that their case was being reviewed by the Washington office.

The latest revelations expand the scandal over the IRS targeting of political groups, which the agency initially said was restricted to low-level employees at an office in Cincinnati, where agents focused on groups including those with the words “Tea Party” and “patriot” in their names.

“For the IRS to say it was some low-level group in Cincinnati is simply false,” Cleta Mitchell, an attorney representing one of the groups that believes it was targeted, told The Post.

The scandal has attracted criticism from both parties, with President Obama calling the actions “outrageous” and pledging that the agency would be held “fully accountable.”

Lawmakers from both parties have also vowed to probe the matter, with the Ways and Means Committee setting a hearing for Friday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Monday led calls for the IRS acting commissioner to resign over the scandal.

Reports of IRS targeting first emerged last week, and while the agency apologized, Tea Party groups who believe they were singled out and lawmakers have said the apology would be insufficient.

An inspector general report to be released later this week will also reveal that top officials at the tax agency were aware of the political bias for more than two years.

Obama press secretary Jay Carney said the White House had been notified that there was an investigation into the IRS office in Cincinnati, but did not learn specifics until the story broke last week.