IRS Chief Counsel Involved in Targeting Conservative Groups
Everything we have heard from the IRS and the Obama Administration about the targeting of the Tea Party seems to end up being proven false, one by one, as the congressional investigation and our lawsuit at the ACLJ on behalf of 41 targeted conservative groups continues.
The latest bombshell revelation comes from congressional testimony of senior IRS attorneys directly involved in the targeting of the Tea Party that IRS Chief Counsel’s office was directly involved in targeting conservative groups, delaying their applications, and developing the unconstitutional and intrusive inquire process.
IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins is a direct political appointee of President Obama in 2009 and significantly calls into question the Obama Administration’s ever evolving timeline of who knew what when, but even more importation who directed and orchestrated the targeting of the Tea Party.
President Obama’s IRS claimed IRS Chief Counsel, one of two politically appointed IRS positions, was not aware of the IRS targeting until this year. Yet, testimony from multiple IRS lawyers in Washington, D.C., released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform now directly implicate IRS Chief Counsel’s office. According to multiple IRS attorneys in D.C., including tax law specialist Carter Hull, who oversaw the review of the Tea Party cases, Lois Lerner, former Director at the Exempt Organizations Division, and her top advisor directed that certain Tea Party applications as part of a “test” group be sent to her office and IRS Chief Counsel for review in the winter of 2010-2011.
Chief Counsel’s office, after months more of delay, then demanded Mr. Hull make further inquiries of the Tea Party. According to the testimony, it was Chief Counsel’s office that was demanding to know more information about the conservative groups’ activities “right before the  election period. In other words, immediately before.”
In addition, the testimony indicates that the Chief Counsel’s office was heavily involved in preparing a template for handling these cases, something Mr. Hull testified was impractical “because these organizations, all of them are different. A template wouldn’t work.” Yet, as he testified, a template was prepared by someone in Chief Counsel’s office in conjunction with other tax law specialists. Even more disturbing he testified that after three years, IRS Chief Counsel’s office had not made a determination about these “test” Tea Party cases, even though in 2011, Mr. Hull had all the information he needed to make a recommendation as to their request for tax-exempt status.
As the House Oversight Committee letter explained, “The lengthy and unusual review of the test applications in Washington created a bottleneck and caused the delay of other Tea Party applications in Cincinnati. Indeed, multiple IRS employees in Cincinnati have told the Committee that they were waiting on guidance form Washington on how to move the applications forward.”
Not only was the IRS Chief Counsel’s office aware, it now appears that it was directly involved in the targeting of the Tea Party, something Darrel Issa, the Oversight Committee, and the Committee on Ways and Means are demanding to know just how involved IRS Chief Counsel was in directing and facilitating the targeting of the Tea Party.
But remember this isn’t the only time the IRS and the Obama Administration’s story has proven false.
President Obama’s IRS first claimed that it was not targeting the Tea Party. Then it later admitted through Lois Lerner’s ill-conceived “apology” that yes in fact the IRS had targeted conservatives.
The Obama Administration claimed the IRS targeting was limited to two low-level rogue agents. Clearly false as layer after layer of IRS review continues to unfold.
The Obama Administration claimed the IRS targeting was limited to one office in Cincinnati. Yet we have targeted inquiry letters from at least three other IRS offices, two in California and Washington, D.C. itself.
The Obama Administration claimed the IRS targeting stopped in 2012. Yet, we have clients who have still not been approved and clients who have still been receiving targeted demand letters from the IRS well into this year.
The Left claimed progressives were targeted too. Yet, the Inspector General and the facts themselves show that “progressive” groups were never targeted to the same extent as conservatives, if at all, with 100% of Tea Party groups being force to undergo an intrusive and unconstitutional review process.
Finally, IRS acting commissioner Daniel Werfel claimed to have found a solution, an “expedited review” process for the targeted groups to self-certify. Yet, this too turned out to be a false choice, a disparate scheme forcing those who had been wrongfully targeted to give up some of their rights and abide by something less than the full extent of the law when other groups who had been quickly approved were allowed to operate under the full extent of the law.
Today, our Tea Party clients rejected this false choice and are demanding immediate approval by the IRS – the determination they were due under the law years ago. In fact, of the seven clients awaiting a determination, most have been waiting for over 1,000 days.
Conservatives have had enough. We will continue to pursue our lawsuit against the IRS. Congress will continue to investigate with the latest round of testimony tomorrow morning.
If you too have had enough, sign the petition to stop the IRS abuse.
Matthew Clark is Associate Counsel for Government Affairs and Media Advocacy with the ACLJ. A lifelong citizen of the Commonwealth of Virginia, he lives with his wife and three boys in Northern Virginia. Follow Matthew Clark: @_MatthewClark.