[Update- 5/13/13] IRS Targeting Timeline Goes Back To March-April 2010
Original post below
Quite a bit of focus on Friday's White House press briefing was on the White House spin over the ABC News blockbuster revelation that contrary to WH spokesman Jay Carney's previous assertions, multiple revisions had been made to the Benghazi talking points at the behest of the Obama administration's State Department.
discussed here at WuA, about the IRS apologizing for inappropriately targeting conservative groups during the 2012 election, groups with the words "tea party," and "patriot," receiving additional scrutiny.
Before addressing the Benghazi revisions, reporters at the White House press briefing asked Carney about the IRS report and subsequent apology.
Via CNN's rush transcript:
QUESTION: Thanks, Jay. Two subjects, starting out with the IRS issue. IRS said that (inaudible) conservative groups with names like "patriots" or "tea party" (inaudible), and said that in some instances (inaudible) inappropriately (inaudible) and it has apologized.
When did the White House become aware that the IRS engaged in this? And in a tax collection system that relies on trust, isn't the IRS's credibility at stake here? And will the White House, as called on by Senator McConnell, call for an investigation?
CARNEY: Well, two things, Jim. I appreciate the question. And we've certainly seen those reports. My understanding is this matter is under investigation by the I.G. -- the -- at the IRS. The IRS, as you know, is an independent enforcement agency with only two political appointees. The fact of the matter is, what we know about this is of concern and we certainly find the actions taken, as reported, to be inappropriate. And we would fully expect the investigation to be thorough and for corrections to be made in a case like this.
And I believe the IRS has addressed that and has taken some action, and there's an investigation ongoing. But it certainly does seem to be, based on what we've seen, to be inappropriate action that we would want to see thoroughly investigated.
QUESTION: Even if the president was critical of some of these groups both in 2010 and 2012, isn't it natural for the public to think that these things are politically motivated? What assurances (inaudible)?
CARNEY: Well, I think that, first of all, two things need to be noted, which is IRS is an independent enforcement agency, which I believe, as I understand it, contains only two political appointees within it. The individual who was running the IRS at the time was actually an appointee from the previous administration.
But separate from that, there is no question that if this activity took place, it's inappropriate and there needs to be action taken. And the president would expect that it be thoroughly investigated and action would be taken.
Conservative Groups Targeted
Notice in answer to the only two questions about the IRS apology and acknowledgement that they had targeted specific conservative groups, Carney makes sure to mention two times that the IRS is an "independent" entity.
Pro-Israel Groups Targeted
Via The Jewish Press: (H/T Dan Riehl and NRO)
While they are at it, the committee might want to ask the IRS whether their list of targets extended beyond political party discrimination. There is evidence the IRS also targeted pro-Israel groups whose positions were potentially inconsistent with the administration’s.
For example, in 2010, the passionately pro-Israel organization Z STREET filed a lawsuit against the IRS, claiming it had been told by an IRS agent that because the organization was “connected to Israel,” its application for tax-exempt status would receive additional scrutiny. This admission was made in response to a query about the lengthy reveiw of Z STREET’s tax exempt status application.
In addition, the IRS agent told a Z STREET representative that the applications of some of those Israel-related organizations have been assigned to “a special unit in the D.C. office to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
Again, emphasis mine.
And at least one purely religious Jewish organization, one not focused on Israel, was the recipient of bizarre and highly inappropriate questions about Israel. Those questions also came from the same non-profit division of the IRS at issue for inappropriately targeting politically conservative groups. The IRS required that Jewish organization to state “whether [it] supports the existence of the land of Israel,” and also demanded the organization “[d]escribe [its] religious belief system toward the land of Israel.”
Romney Donors Targeted
It was also reported back in July 2012, that an Idaho businessman, Frank VanderSloot, singled out by the Obama campaign for giving $1 million in support of Mitt Romney is became the focus of IRS audit.
VanderSloot gave the pro-Romney money last year to the super PAC “Restore of Future.” Then in April, he was identified along with seven other donors on an Obama campaign website as “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.”
Organizations that are conservative were "inappropriately" targeted. Pro-Israel groups that might "contradict the administration's public policies," were targeted for additional scrutiny and asked highly inappropriate questions. Romney donors, deliberately and publicly targeted by the Barack Obama campaign on his website suddenly, coincidentally became the focus of an IRS audit.
The White House claims the IRS acts independently.
Anyone else having a difficult time swallowing Carney's claim that the IRS was acting independently?
[Update] AP reports- That report says the head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups learned that groups were being targeted in June 2011.
(Changes made to this post as updated information became available)