The Justice Department is now investigating the Internal Revenue Service for targeting Tea Party groups and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they apply for tax exempt status, said Attorney General Eric Holder.
The Obama Administration admits that IRS agents improperly targeted Tea Party groups for over a year and a half reported by the Treasury Inspector General for tax administration. The report blames much of the inappropriate actions on IRS supervisors in Washington. The report does not say Washington initiated the procedure, but says a top supervisor in Washington did not properly supervise agents in the field even after she learned the agents were targeting the conservative groups.
Last Friday the IRS publicly acknowledged it had singled out conservative groups, and
Mr. Holder ordered the FBI to begin an investigation. “Those actions were, if not criminal, they were certainly outrageous and unacceptable,” said Mr. Holder. Three congressional committees are already investigating the IRS, but the FBI investigation brings it to a whole other level bringing the possibility of criminal charges.
The Service started targeting groups with “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in their applications for tax exempt status in March of 2010.
Lois Lerner, who is the head of the IRS division that oversees tax exempt organizations, was briefed on this in June of 2011. She quickly ordered the agents to change the criteria for singling out groups to more generic organizations. However, by January, 2012, it was clear that agents of the IRS started to single out groups that promoted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
In all, the Service identified 296 applications for additional, and sometimes burdensome, scrutiny. This additional scrutiny resulted in long delays.