Omission Watch: IRS Agent Testifies The Agency's Still Targeting Tea Party Groups for Added Scrutiny

Would the media feel compelled to cover the IRS Tea Party-targeting scandal if investigators found that targeting was ongoing in the Obama administration? Apparently not. It didn't come up at Obama's press conference.

Paul Bedard of The Washington Examiner reported Friday that the House Ways and Means Committee was told "the agency is still targeting Tea Party groups, three months after the IRS scandal erupted." Apparently, no one in Obama-land feels intimidated by the media in the slightest  to change their politicized behavior:

In a remarkable admission that is likely to rock the Internal Revenue Service again, testimony released Thursday by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp  reveals that an agent involved in reviewing tax exempt applications from conservative groups told a committee investigator that the agency is still targeting Tea Party groups, three months after the IRS scandal erupted.

In closed door testimony before the House Ways & Means Committee, the unidentified IRS agent said requests for special tax status from Tea Party groups is being forced into a special "secondary screening" because the agency has yet to come up with new guidance on how to judge the tax status of the groups.

In a redacted transcript from the committee provided to Secrets, a Ways & Means investigator asked: "If you saw -- I am asking this currently, if today if a Tea Party case, a group -- a case from a Tea Party group came in to your desk, you reviewed the file and there was no evidence of political activity, would you potentially approve that case? Is that something you would do?"

The agent said, "At this point I would send it to secondary screening, political advocacy."

The committee staffer then said, "So you would treat a Tea Party group as a political advocacy case even if there was no evidence of political activity on the application. Is that right?" The agent admitted, "Based on my current manager's direction, uh-huh."

Camp called the renewed targeting of Tea Party groups "outrageous."

Added a committee aide, "In plain English, the IRS is still targeting Tea Party cases."

...Camp, the Michigan Republican, told Secrets, "It is outrageous that IRS management continues to target Tea Party cases without any justification. The harassment, abuse and delays these Americans have faced over the last few years has been unwarranted, unprovoked and, at times, possibly illegal. The fact that the IRS still continues to treat the Tea Party differently and subject them to additional targeting is outrageous and it must stop immediately."

In response, the IRS reiterated Werfel's pledge to not target groups because of political labels. "The IRS has taken decisive action to eliminate the use of inappropriate political labels in the screening of 501(c)(4) applications. We look forward to seeing the full transcript to gain a fuller understanding of the context of the interview," they said early Friday.
 

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis