Earlier this week, Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel told reporters that progressive groups were also targeted and that the IRS hadn’t done anything wrong. This article quotes the TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) as disputing Werfel’s statement. First, here’s what Werfel told reporters:
In a conference call with reporters, Werfel said an internal investigation of the IRS scandal, the findings of which were released Monday afternoon, had unearthed other instances in which “Be On The Look Out” (BOLO) lists were used. He has since ended the use of the tactic, he said, calling the screening criteria used in these other instances “inappropriate.”
“When I got to the IRS, we started a more comprehensive review of the operations of this part of the IRS, have been looking at documents and business operations, and we did determine and discover that there are other BOLO lists in place,” Werfel said. “And upon discovering that, we also found that we believed there continued to be inappropriate or questionable criteria on these BOLO lists. Once we came to that conclusion, we took immediate action to suspend the use of these lists in the exempt organizations unit within the IRS.”
I was skeptical of Werfel’s statement at the time. The IG’s testimony shows I was justified in that skepticism:
The Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA) sent a letter Wednesday to congressional Democrats telling them that while several liberal groups may have gotten extra scrutiny, the IRS didn’t necessarily target those — but it did do so for conservative groups.
“TIGTA concluded that inappropriate criteria were used to identify potential political cases for extra scrutiny — specifically, the criteria listed in our audit report. From our audit work, we did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled “Progressives,” were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited,” Inspector General J. Russell George said.
In total, 292 organizations with TEA Party in their names were targeted. A paltry 6 organizations with progressive in their names got additional scrutiny.That’s only part of the story. The 6 organizations with progressive in their names still got their status approved within the prescribed timeline. More than 50 TEA Party organizations have been waiting for over 3 years for approval as a 501(c)(4) organization.
In short, Commissioner Werfel lied in saying the IRS’s conduct wasn’t improper or illegal:
Though he acknowledged that his investigation remains incomplete, Werfel said that he had yet to uncover evidence of intentional wrongdoing by IRS officials when applying these BOLOs. Nor had he found instances in which outside actors, mainly the Obama campaign and administration, had pressured the tax agency to target conservative groups.
“The fact that no evidence is surfacing as wrongdoing is an important conclusion to reach as long as it is qualified by the fact that more reviews are underway,” Werfel said, when pressed by The Huffington Post as to why he was making statements that could later be contradicted by the findings of additional investigations. “And so, I’ll be as clear as I can right now. I’m not providing a definitive conclusion that no intentional wrongdoing occurred. But I’m suggesting that based on the ongoing reviews to date, no evidence has yet surfaced.”
If Werfel doesn’t think that targeting 292 TEA Party organizations to 6 progressive organizations isn’t proof of intentional wrongdoing, then he should be fired ASAP. That’s proof he’s either incapable of being honest or he’s incapable of recognizing reality.
In either case, he isn’t the right man to restore integrity to the IRS.