And just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for the Obama administration, something new comes along.
From the Washington Post:
Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved in the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea party-affiliated groups.
Okay, so it appears the Washington Post report contradicts the IRS official who claimed last week that the political targeting was done by “low-level” staffers in Cincinnati.
Of course, it’s important to note that the official who made this claim, Lois Lerner, is the head of the Cincinnati-based IRS office that oversees tax-exempt groups. Considering that her office is heavily involved in the scandal, some of her staffers must also be involved.
Still, it doesn’t appear that she was being all that forthright with reporters.
We were told the political targeting was done by “low-level” Cincinnati staffers. Period. No one said anything about Washington, D.C., officials:
… On several other occasions, IRS officials in D.C. and California sent detailed questionaires to conservative groups asking more than a dozen questions about their voter outreach and other activities, according to the documents.
“For the IRS to say it was some low-level group in Cincinnati is simply false,” said Cleta Mitchell, a partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP who sought to communicate with IRS headquarters about the delay in granting tax-exempt status to True the Vote.
And all this on top of the fact that top-ranking IRS officials were made aware of the targeting in May 2012:
… details of the IRS’s efforts to target conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency in May 2012, far earlier than has been disclosed, according to Republican congressional aides briefed by the IRS and the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration on the details of their reviews.
Then commissioner, Douglas Shulman, a George W. Bush appointee who stepped down in November, received a briefing from the Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration about what was happening in the Cincinnati office in May 2012, the aides said. His deputy and the agency’s current acting commissioner, Steven T. Miller, also received a briefing that month, according to the aides.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Monday that the White House counsel’s office was notified of the IRS investigation back in April, TheBlaze reported earlier today.
Of course, as noted by Carney, President Obama was totally unaware of investigation and the targeting.
(Obvious) Exit Question: How high up does this thing go?
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Featured image AP photos. This post has been updated.