Politics

May 15, 2013

Eric Holder: Potential civil rights violations at IRS

The FBI conducts an investigation for potential crimes after the IRS gave extra scrutiny to conservative groups, but some experts say it would be hard to prove employees knowingly violated the groups' rights.

By Stephen Ohlemacher / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Lerner learned about the targeting on June 29, 2011, according to a report Tuesday by the inspector general.

The report said ineffective management at the IRS allowed agents to improperly target tea party and other conservative groups for more than 18 months.

The report said that while their applications for tax exempt status languished, tea party groups were asked a host of inappropriate questions, including: Who are your donors? What are the political affiliations of officers? What issues are important to the organization, and what are your positions on those issues? Will any officers in the group run for public office? Where do you work?

The IRS started targeting groups with "Tea Party," ''Patriots" or "9/12 Project" in their applications for tax exempt status in March 2010, the inspector general's report said. By August 2010, it was part of the written criteria used to flag groups for additional scrutiny.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said Wednesday that no union employees had been disciplined, as far as she knew. She noted that the IG's report said agents were not motivated by political bias.

Kelley told The Associated Press that low-level workers could not have specifically targeted conservative groups for long without the approval of supervisors. However, she noted, there are many levels of supervisors at the IRS.

"No processes or procedures or anything like that would ever be done just by front-line employees without any management involvement," Kelley said. "That's just not how it operates."

Also Wednesday, the IRS released a list of 179 advocacy groups that had been approved for tax-exempt status as of May 9. The list includes both seemingly conservative and progressive groups, including the Nevada County Tea Party Patriots and Progressive Texas.

The agency also pushed back against one aspect of the inspector general's report. The report said the chief counsel was briefed about conservative groups being targeted on Aug. 4, 2011.

The IRS, however, said in a statement that the meeting involved staff attorneys "several layers below" chief counsel William Wilkins.

"Wilkins did not learn about specific groups being singled out by name until earlier this year," the IRS statement said.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


Blogs

More PPH Blogs