A growing number of voters believe the White House was involved in the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, according to a CNN-ORC poll released on Tuesday.
Forty-seven percent in the poll said they believed the White House ordered the targeting, compared to 49 percent who believe the IRS acted on its own. The same poll in May found 55 percent said the IRS acted on its own, against only 37 percent who said the White House was involved.
A partisan split was evident in the findings, with Republicans more likely to think the White House was involved and Democrats more likely to think IRS officials were working on their own.
A majority of those polled — 51 percent — said the issue is “very important” to the nation, while 32 percent said it was “somewhat important.”
That’s down slightly from May, when 55 percent called the issue “very important” and 30 “somewhat important.”
On Monday, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released portions of an interview with Holly Paz, a former Washington IRS official who worked with tax-exempt groups and told investigators that she first learned of the practice and flagged several cases of Tea Party groups getting extra scrutiny in February 2010.
Paz said the staffers in the Cincinnati IRS office that admitted to the targeting were “apolitical” and unaware of the potential implications or fallout of their actions.
Paz is to date the highest ranking Washington official to say she knew of the practice. The White House has said President Obama found out about the targeting through news reports at the same time as the general public.
The CNN-ORC poll of 1,014 voters was conducted between June 11 and June 13 and has a 3-percentage-point margin of error.