May 22, 2013

Official: Treasury played no role in IRS targeting

Alan Fram and Stephen Ohlemacher / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Lerner also met twice in early 2012 with staff from the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee to discuss the issue, according to a timeline constructed by committee staff. The timeline said she didn't mention at either meeting that conservative groups had been targeted.

Lerner's revelation and apology at the May 10 legal conference came in response to a question that IRS officials later acknowledged they had planted with an audience member. Lerner's disclosure came days before George, the inspector general, released his report detailing the IRS' actions.

George's report found that in June 2011, Lerner discovered that her unit was searching for organizations with words like "tea party" or "patriots" in their applications and subjecting them to tougher questions. She ordered the initial tea party criteria to be scrapped, but it later evolved to include groups that promoted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the report said. Lawmakers are curious about why the practice didn't stop entirely.

A career civil servant who has run the division since late 2005, Lerner has not been disciplined for her role, IRS officials said. But with President Barack Obama demanding that IRS officials be held accountable for the problem, Acting Commissioner Steven Miller and another top agency official have announced their departures in recent days and many lawmakers believe more heads should roll.

George and Douglas Shulman, the former IRS commissioner who headed the agency while it was targeting conservative groups, are also scheduled to testify Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Shulman told the Senate Finance Committee that he learned in the spring of 2012 about his agency's targeting of conservatives and George's probe. He said he didn't tell lawmakers or officials at Treasury — of which the IRS is part — because he only had sketchy information about the situation, was told it was being handled and believed it proper to let George's office conduct its investigation.

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