Acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel told reporters Monday that the agency’s discrimination against tea party and other groups lasted longer and was broader than indicated in the Treasury Department inspector general’s report.
In fact, though the TIGTA report states that the targeting ended in May 2012, Werfel said he found screeners using lists containing what he considered to be objectionable criteria when he took the helm last month — and said he suspended the use of those lists, known as “Be On the Lookout” lists, immediately.
According to the Associated Press, the lists contained the terms “Israel,” “Progressive,” and “Occupy,” in addition to language like “Tea Party,” “9/12 Project,” and “Patriot.” National Review Online reported that, according to the testimony of a Cincinnati employee interviewed by the House Oversight Committee, the applications of pro-Israel groups are sent to an antiterrorism unit within the IRS, where they receive heightened scrutiny.
The Cincinnati employee charged with processing the applications of tea-party groups, Elizabeth Hofacre, said that she passed along those of liberal and progressive groups for general processing. And the former director of the IRS’s Office of Rulings and Agreements, Holly Paz, whom the agency placed on administrative leave earlier this month, told the committee that the terms intended to flag the applications of tea-party groups were in fact used to flag the applications of all groups that showed a potential to engage in political activity, but she did not say separate terms were used to target liberal groups.
Like the TIGTA report, Werfel blamed the improper behavior on the part of IRS agents on “significant management and judgment failures” but said that, though his team is still investigating the matter, “we have found no evidence of intentional wrongdoing by IRS personnel, or involvement in these matters by anyone outside of the IRS.” He indicated, however, that the IRS has removed several people from their positions
Werfel earlier today released an 83-page report outlining his findings, which drew sharp criticism from House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa, who said it “fails to meaningfully answer the largest outstanding questions about inappropriate inquiries and indefensible delays,” and called Werfel’s claim that nobody within the IRS intentionally did anything wrong “premature.” Issa’s commitee continues to call witnesses to deliver private testimony on the matter, and a committee spokesman tells National Review Online that, unlike the TIGTA audit and the Werful report, their investigation seeks to name names and call individuals to account for the wrongdoing that occurred.