The Associated Press, via the Washington Post, runs this breaking story about the exploding IRS scandal. It turns out that while outgoing IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress twice in March 2012 that the agency wasn’t targeting conservative groups, just two months later his acting replacement Steve Miller knew all about it:
IRS says current acting commissioner learned in May 2012 that tea party groups were targeted.
The current commissioner knew for a full year that the agency was targeting Tea Party groups and other opposition organization for aggressive auditing? And in the middle of an election year, no less? And yet, today Barack Obama insists that he knew nothing of this practice until last Friday.
This is either the most incompetent administration ever, or one of the least honest. I don’t think there’s a third option any longer, especially in this scandal.
The House Ways and Means Committee has scheduled a formal hearing Friday to probe the Internal Revenue Service for placing heavier scrutiny on conservative groups that applied for nonprofit status between 2010 and 2012.
IRS Commissioner Steve Miller and Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George are expected to testify Friday morning during the hearing, which committee leaders said would examine the agency’s “practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings.”
Expect Miller to get a lot of questions as to why he never mentioned this practice in June 2012:
The Internal Revenue Service says acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller was first informed in May 2012 that tea party groups were inappropriately targeted for scrutiny.
A month later he wrote a member of Congress to explain the process of reviewing applications for tax-exempt status without mentioning the controversy.
Who told him to keep quiet? That will certainly be one of the questions. At the same time, this poses a fresh set of problems for Shulman, too. It will be very difficult to argue that he didn’t know anything about the practice in March 2012 when his chief counsel knew about it in August 2011, but that Miller came up to speed on it just after his departure. And both men will have to answer whether and when they briefed the White House on this — or whether the White House briefed them to put the practice in place.
Update: Funny how Lois Lerner never mentioned this in her Friday-afternoon dump attempt, huh?
Update: Wow … just wow:
The same IRS office that deliberately targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to ProPublica late last year.
The IRS did not respond to requests Monday following up about that release, and whether it had determined how the applications were sent to ProPublica.
In response to a request for the applications for 67 different nonprofits last November, the Cincinnati office of the IRS sent ProPublica applications or documentation for 31 groups. Nine of those applications had not yet been approved—meaning they were not supposed to be made public. (We madesixof those public, after redacting their financial information, deeming that they were newsworthy.)
It’s amazing that ProPublica is willing to burn its source, at least in a general sense, as the key update that it is. This shows that the aggressive actions from this office were hardly apolitical. All nine of the confidential files involved conservative groups, not just a cross-section of 501(c)4s applying for exemptions. This was a coordinated effort to attack conservative groups, although ProPublica ran their article after the election.