A Cincinnati-based Internal Revenue Service employee is pushing back against claims by Lois Lerner and other top IRS officials that the agency’s Cincinnati office was responsible for the the targeting of tea-party groups and the botched processing of their applications for tax exemption.
Elizabeth Hofacre, who coordinated “emerging issues” cases for the IRS and handled all tea-party applications between April and August 2010, called Lerner’s May 10 disclosure of the scandal at a tax-law conference “a nuclear strike” on Cincinnati employees. Hofacre told House Oversight Committee investigators in an interview, the transcript of which has been reviewed by National Review Online, that her boss immediately called her to apologize on Lerner’s behalf, presumably because “she was flabbergasted that Lois had made such a statement” and “appalled that Lois Lerner said that.”
Responding to a planted question from a friend in the audience at the American Bar Association conference, Lerner revealed that the IRS had inappropriately discriminated against tea-party groups, and pointed the finger at “our line people in Cincinnati.” She also said that Cincinnati employees were responsible for the delays in the processing of tea-party applications and for asking intrusive questions of the groups “that weren’t really necessary for the type of application.”
Upon hearing this, “I was furious,” Hofacre told investigators.
Hofacre also charged that top brass in the IRS, including Lerner, have misled the public by blaming the scandal on a few rogue employees. “Everybody that has been making those statements should know they are inaccurate,” she said. Asked whether “the public has been purposely misled,” Hofacre responded, “Exactly.”
Like Lerner, Joseph Grant, the commissioner of the IRS’s Tax-Exempt and Government Entities division who retired in early June, blamed “front-line career employees” in Cincinnati, while inspector general J. Russell George in his report faulted “insufficient oversight,” specifically by “first-line management in Cincinnati, Ohio.”
Hofacre explained that, contrary to the claims of IRS officials, agency managers in both Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., “have really tight inventory-control systems” and know “exactly what cases we had, how old they are,” and ”how long we have had them.”
“These two rogue agents running amok for three years, even for three months, it would never happen,” she said.