Monday, May 20, 2013

The Timeline, to Date, of the IRS Targeting of Conservatives

So many scandals; so little time! How can one keep track of the Obama Administration second term travails? Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the AP/Fox News reporters, and now the IRS? Let’s start with the IRS and the Tea Party. The timeline explains a lot, but is only “tentative” in the sense that more keeps dribbling out daily as the President and his aides continue to fumble the response. By way of background, most of the non-profit applications were assessed in the Cincinnati Office of the IRS by the Exempt Organizations Division with difficult calls going to the Determinations Unit. Some applications were also processed by offices in Washington, D.C., El Monte and Laguna Niguel, California. March 31, 2010: Colleen Kelley, President of the National Treasury Employees Union (IRS workers), met with President Obama at the White House. The Determinations Unit of the IRS in Cincinnati then proceeded to develop criteria for singling out certain groups. Coincidence? Wouldn’t you like to hear a tape of their discussions? May 2010: The Determinations Unit began developing a BOLO (“Be On the Look Out”) criteria for special treatment. June 2010: The IRS started teaching “specialists” on issues to be aware of, such as the Tea Party July 2010: Requested specialists to be on the lookout for Tea Party cases August 2010: Distributed first BOLO list with the Tea Party on it September 2010: Senator Max Baucus (D Mont), Chair f the Senate Finance Committee, writes to IRS Commissioner David Shulman requesting the IRS survey any non-profit engaged in political or campaign activity February 2012: Democratic Senators Charles Schumer, Michael Bennett, Al Franklin, Jeff Markley, Jeanne Shaheen, Tom Udall, and Sheldon Whitehorse write a similar letter to Commissioner Shulman. June 2011: Determinations Unit added “Patriot” and “9/12 Project “to the BOLO June 29, 2011: Lois Lerner, Director of the Exempt Organizations Division based in D.C., was notified of the BOLO. She claims to have asked for the criteria to be revised. (Lois’ name will reoccur often in the timeline) July and August 2012: Senator Carl Levin complained to the IRS about its apparent passivity January 2012: Cincinnati started sending our exhaustive, extensive, and often illegal questionnaires to be filled in by 170 targeted organizations. 27 asked the applicants to disclose their donor list. January 25, 2012: The BOLO criteria was revised to: “Political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social engineering reform/movement.” Reread this criteria carefully. The IRS singled out applicants who wished to educate Americans on the Constitution and Bill of Rights. March 2012: The Human Rights Campaign and the Huffington Post published confidential tax documents from the National Organization for Marriage. PrPublica requested the applications of 67 non-profits. The IRS responded, with 31 applications, including the applications of 9 conservative groups whose applications had not yet been approved and hence legally were to remain confidential. ProPublic published 6 of them. March 2012: Congressman Darrell Issa (R Ca), Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Congressman Jim Jordan (R Ohio), asked Lerner for a list of the organizations that had been subjected to special treatment. She refused, quoting Section 6104(a) of the Taxation Code that provides only the applications of organizations that have ben granted tax exempt status are subject to disclosure. And yet the IRS in the same month disclosed confidential information to ProPublica. April 26, 2012: Lerner writes the Agency is trying “to promote consistent handling” of tax exempt applications. IRS agents used “sound reasoning based on tax law, training, and his or her own experience.” May 3, 2012: Steve Miller, Deputy Commissioner, learns the agency had singled out groups by name.. He was told that some applications for tax exempt status were improperly selected for extra attention. Dave Shulman, IRS Commissioner, was also informed of the activities. June 15, 2012: Miller letter to Congress: The IRS “took steps to coordinate the handling of cases to ensure consistency” in response to an increase in applications. July 25, 2012: Miller in testimony before Congress fails to inform it of the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. November2012: Deputy IRS Commissioner Miller appointed to Acting Commissioner March 15, 2013: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was told by the Inspector General that an “audit” was forthcoming. Secretary Lew, who did not know how much was in his offshore bank account, should not be confused with his predecessor, Timothy Geithner, who blamed his tax cheating on TurboTax. Treasury officials were provided a draft of the IG’s Report. May 8, 2013: Lerner testified before a Congressional Committee. Representative Joseph Crowley (D. NY) about the status of 501(C)4 organizations. Her response was bland with no mention of the impending IG Report. Representative Crowley believes he was lied to and wants Lerner fired. May 10, 2013: Lerner disclosed and apologized for the targeting of conservative groups at an ABA Tax Conference. She blamed it on “low-level” employees. Steve Miller blamed it on two rogue employees who have been disciplined. We learn last next week that Lerner had planted the question with a friend, Celia Roady. Lerner and Miller had decided to get ahead of the Inspector General’s Report, which they knew would be issued soon. May 16, 2011: Joseph Grant, Deputy Commissioner of Tax Exempt and Government Entities, announces his resignation, effective June 3, 2013. May 17, 2013: Deposed Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee, displaying both incredible arrogance and insulting our intelligence. A classic statement is ”I can say, generally, we provided horrible customer service here.” He declaimed any political motivation by the IRS employees: “I think that what happened here was that foolish mistakes were made by people who were trying to be more efficient in their workload selection.” President Obama holds a press conference, appropriately in the rain, with Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan. The President is asked if White House officials knew of the IRS targeting of conservative organizations. His response was non-responsive: “I knew nothing about the IG Report before it was leaked to the press.” So far the President has plausible deniability. May 20, 2013: Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post awards 4 Pinocchios to Los Lerner for her misstatements about the surge in applications by the political advocacy organizations. Contrary to Lerner’s statement, the surge in applications did not occur until 2011, after the Determinations Unit started the BOLO. May 19, 2013: White House Senior Aide Dan Pfeiffer on 5 TV shows said the White House did not know the details of the investigation or its conclusions until its release on May 14. May 19, 2013: The New York Times runs a full page article attributing the IRS’ problems on understaffing combined with a substantial increase in applications. May 20, 2013: Jay Carney acknowledges to reporters that White House officials knew of the Inspector General’s review earlier than previously disclosed (by Jay Carney). A staffer of White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler learned of the investigation during the week of April 16. Ruemmler was informed on April 24, and then notified the White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, and other aides of the findings of misconduct by “a small number of IRS employees.” Jay Carney still claims President Obama did not know of the IRS’s actions until the news reports came out. Chicago Rules Open dates: When will Lois Lerner be thrown under the bus? When will the White House become aware of what the White House was aware of? Will President Obama adopt the Truman credo: “The Buck Stops Here”? When will the President be forced to appoint a special prosecutor?

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