Did former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman know that his agency was targeting conservative groups when he told Congress, on March 22, 2012, that it was not? That is a question which, according to reports, the forthcoming inspector general’s report does not answer.
In a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee, Louisiana representative Charles Boustany raised concerns that “the IRS is targeting certain tea-party groups across the country.” Shulman assured him, “We will have none of that kind of political intervention in things that we do.”
The IRS on Friday apologized for what it called “inappropriate” targeting of conservative groups during the 2012 election, blaming low-level employees in a Cincinnati office. Yet the inspector general’s report indicates that Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, was told in June 2011 that tea-party groups were being targeted.
Yet, ten months later, Shulman, a Bush appointee who completed his six-year term in last fall, insisted that the agency was apolitical. The extent of his knowledge, and that of other senior officials, remains one of the unanswered questions in this evolving scandal.