Sure, it was just a couple of rogue employees who targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for “special attention” when they applied for tax-exempt non-profits status. No doubt, as part of their mid-level, front-line worker conspiracy that no one above them knew about, they managed to dupe the Chief Counsel of the IRS, too:
The chief counsel’s office for the Internal Revenue Service, headed by a political appointee of President Obama, helped develop the agency’s problematic guidelines for reviewing “tea party” cases, according to a top IRS attorney.
In interviews with congressional investigators, IRS lawyer Carter Hull said his superiors told him that the chief counsel’s office, led by William Wilkins, would need to review some of the first applications the agency screened for additional scrutiny because of potential political activity.
Previous accounts from IRS employees had shown that Washington IRS officials were involved in the controversy, but Hull’s comments represent the closest connection to the White House to date. No evidence so far has definitively linked the White House to the agency’s actions.
According to a partial transcript released by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and House Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chief counsel’s office also discussed using a template letter to ask questions about the groups’ activities, despite Hull’s warning that such a boilerplate approach would be impractical.
“My reviewer and I both said a template makes absolutely no difference because these organizations, all of them are different,” Hull told investigators. “A template would not work.”
Hull told investigators that he had already requested additional information from the applicants at that point and felt he had enough facts to make a determination about their eligibility, according to the transcripts.
Social welfare groups, known as 501 (c)(4)s, faced delays lasting months and even years as the IRS reviewed their applications during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.
Carter Hull has appeared before us, before. An IRS employee in the now-infamous Cincinnati office claimed she could do nothing without the approval of Hull and his colleagues in D.C. Soon after the IRS scandal broke, Hull conveniently announced his retirement. I said then that bravely running away wouldn’t protect him from Issa’s committee, and I was right. Once questioned by congressional investigators, he helpfully pointed out the way further “uphill,” to the realm of political appointees. And from there…
This is how the Watergate investigation worked, folks: the slow, often frustrating drip of accumulating facts that wears down the wall of denial until, one day, the wall cracks and someone big decides to talk. And when that happens, I suspect it will take us right up to the doors of the Oval Office, if not all the way inside. Someone decided to persecute Americans for daring to hold the wrong political opinions, and that’s not something done by a “rogue employee.”
Afterthought: I shouldn’t be so hard on the administration for not investigating this matter. They really do have their hands full persecuting a man found not guilty and also going after those racist self-defense laws that benefit Florida Blacks more than anyone else in the state.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)