Confirmed: IRS Lawyer Accused of Micromanaging Tea-Party Cases to Retire

by Eliana Johnson

The IRS lawyer accused by a Cincinnati IRS agent of micromanaging her work on tea-party cases, Carter Hull, is retiring amidst the scandal roiling the tax-collection agency. An IRS source confirmed to National Review Online that Hull, who has been with the agency for decades, will retire this summer and requested his retirement package “on March 12 of this year.” The source tells National Review Online that it normally takes the agency approximately four months to process an employee’s request for his retirement package and the retirement to finalize.

National Review Online yesterday reported Hull is planning to retire, according to another IRS source who said the tax lawyer is “around 75 years old.” Reached over the phone, Hull would not confirm or deny the report, telling me only, “I cannot verify anything about this entire matter.”

Whether Hull’s retirement was prompted by the ongoing scandal is unknown, though IRS officials were aware of the findings of the Treasury inspector general’s report, which concluded that the agency had improperly targeted tea-party groups for extra scrutiny, long before they were made public and before Hull requested his retirement package.  

A timeline provided by the IG to the House Oversight Committee indicates that the IG briefed then IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman and his deputy commissioners on their investigation — in particular, that inappropriate criteria were being used to review applications for tax exemption — on May 30, 2012. Then, on June 27, 2012, the IG’s team briefed Joseph Grant, the head of the Tax Exempt and Government Entitites division, on the results of their investigation. Grant was again briefed on the IG’s findings on September 26, 2012. 

As I wrote yesterday, Hull did not not act alone in overseeing the processing of tea-party applications from Washington, though sources say he was the first to begin handling them in March 2010. Other lawyers in the IRS’s Technical Unit in Washington were also involved in approving the questionnaires sent to tea-party groups and even in writing some of the questions, and Hull reported to Michael Seto, the manager of the Exempt Organizations’ Technical Office, where some 40 lawyers offered advice to IRS agents across the country. Expressing frustration about Washington’s oversight of her work, Liz Hofacre, an agent in Cincinnati, told the Oversight Committee, “I was taking all my direction from EO Technical.” 

Hull’s retirement will mark the second departure from the IRS of D.C. officials connected with the scandal. Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations division who defended the intrusive quesions sent to tea-party groups, is out on paid leave. Given their departures, we can dispense with the IRS’s explanation that the blame for this scandal lies with a couple of rogue employees in the Midwest. It’s left to the House Oversight Committee, now undertaking a full-scale investigation of the issue, to discover where the inital orders to target conservative groups came from. 

The Corner

The one and only.