IRS employee in bombshell congressional interviews about tea party targeting: ‘Washington, DC wanted some cases … I sent seven’
PUBLISHED: 11:45 EST, 2 June 2013 | UPDATED: 12:16 EST, 2 June 2013
Interviews with IRS employees have established that the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Internal Revenue Service was engaged in targeting tea party groups and other conservative organizations for unfair levels of scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Rep. Darrel lssa, chairman of powerful House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform, made that startling announcement on CNN Sunday morning.
‘As late as last week,’ he said, ‘the [Obama] administration was still trying to say the [IRS targeting scandal] was from a few rogue agents in Cincinnati, when in fact the indication is that they were directly being ordered from Washington.’
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
A committee spokesman sent MailOnline partial transcripts of two interviews with unnamed IRS workers about the agency’s actions in early 2010, on whose testimony Issa based his bombshell statement.
One of those interviewees said it was ‘impossible’ for a few IRS agents to have orchestrated such widespread partisan targeting on their own.
‘Did [your supervisor] give you any indication of the need for the search [for tea party groups], any more context?’ one IRS witness was asked in a closed-door interview.
‘He told me that Washington, D.C., wanted some cases,’ came the reply.
The employee, who said he or she was evaluating 40 such applications for tax-exempt status from conservative organizations at the time, said ‘some went to Washington. D.C. … I sent seven.’
The interviews, which are still ongoing, are being conducted by oversight committee staff in conjunction with House Ways and Means committee staff, and include both Republicans and Democrats.
The employee told those congressional investigators that IRS headquarters had also requested two specific cases for review.
Another employee, that witness said, ‘wanted to have two cases that she couldn’t — Washington, D.C. wanted them, but she couldn’t find the paper. So she requested me, through an email, to find these cases for her and to send them to Washington, D.C.’
‘[The] allegation has been made, I think as you have seen in lots of press reports, that there were two rogue agents in Cincinnati that are sort of responsible for all of the issues that we have been talking about today.,’ the investigator noted. ‘What do you think about those allegations?’
‘It’s impossible.,’ the employee replied. ‘As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen.’
Asked whether the problem ‘was originated in and contained in the Cincinnati office,’ as some Obama administration officials in Washington have claimed, the agent replied that ‘I still hear people saying we were low level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C. So, take it for what it is.’
‘They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.’
‘[W]e didn’t do anything wrong,’ the agent said, according to the partial transcript. ‘We followed directions based on other people telling us what to do.’
Did those directions came from Washington, D.C.? the investigator wanted to know.
‘I believe so,’ was the answer.
Another Cincinnati IRS employee, whom the oversight committee described Sunday as ‘more senior,’ told the investigators that he or she applied for another job in July 2010 out of a desire to avoid connections with a program that targeted certain Americans because of their political beliefs.
‘It was the whole tea party. It was the whole picture,’ the senior agent said.
‘I mean, it was the micromanagement. The fact that the subject area was extremely sensitive and it was something that I didn’t want to be associated with.’
It is ‘what happened now’ that the employee said he or she was trying to prevent involvement with.
‘I mean, rogue agent? Even though I was taking all my direction from EO Technical [the Exempt Organizations technical office in Washington, D.C], I didn’t want my name in the paper for being this rogue agent for a project I had no control over.’
Three separate congressional committees will hold hearings in the coming week about the IRS scandal, including a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing Monday about the agency’s problematic pending of more than $60,000 to produce two comedic videos for employees to watch during a 2010 training conference.
One was a spoof on Star Trek. The other, which the Obama IRS provided to the committee just Friday, consisted of a group line-dancing session peppered with accounting jokes.