The final report by a Congressional committee accuses the IRS of having a "culture of bias" against conservatives
The report also claims IRS officials had a "general loathing" of conservative groups
The report singles out seven IRS officials in addition to Lois Lerner
This is the sixth IRS report issued by Darrel Issa's House Oversight committee
The latest report from House Republicans on IRS targeting of conservative groups - their sixth - says the tax collection agency “systematically targeted” conservative groups over the course of two years and ties the behavior to a “culture of bias” among IRS employees.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa slams IRS officials in the report for their “inability to keep politics out of objective decisions” and points to a “general loathing” toward conservative organizations.
The report – Issa’s last before he hands his gavel over to Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz – also explicitly spreads the blame beyond Lois Lerner to seven other top IRS officials, singling out two former IRS commissioners, the agency’s chief counsel and several others.
But Issa has yet to find a smoking gun linking the IRS’s inappropriate screenings to political direction from the White House. That effort will continue under Chaffetz.
“The fact-finding is not yet complete,” according to the the report.
The IRS still has yet to comply with three subpoenas requesting more documents and records and under Chaffetz’s leadership, the Committee is expected to look into another 30,000 newly recovered emails to and from Lois Lerner, the now-former IRS official who has been at the center of the probe.
The Senate Finance Committee, which will be chaired by Republican Sen Orrin Hatch in January, is also conducting an investigation.
Democrats dismissed the new report as not telling the entire story.
“It is revealing that the Republicans – yet again – are leaking cherry-picked excerpts of documents to support their preconceived political narrative without allowing Committee Members to even see their conclusions or vote on them first,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings in a statement. “By leaking information to reporters on condition that they not disclose it to Democrats, Republicans are intentionally bypassing the normal congressional vetting process designed to distinguish fact from fiction.”
The report released Tuesday ties the targeting of conservative groups caused by a “perfect storm of mismanagement” that extended from the bottom rungs of the IRS to “the very top” of the organization with “bad judgment, inexperience, and bureaucratic rigidity” at fault.
But most of all, the report charges that IRS staffers inserted their own political beliefs into their jobs, allowing their liberal bias to influence professional decisions on whether groups should obtain tax-exempt status.
“Conservative organizations were not just singled out because of their political beliefs—they were targeted by IRS officials and employees who expressed a general loathing toward them even while begrudgingly admitting that those organizations were in compliance with…the tax code,” the report reads.
The report also reveals emails between IRS officials, noting an email from one IRS agent to another about an application from a group that had donated to a political group.
After a first agent wrote that he was “not sure we can deny them” simply for donating to another non-profit social welfare group, another agent replied:
“This sounds like a bad org…This org gives me an icky feeling.”
Reports emerged last year that liberal groups were also singled out by the IRS for closer scrutiny, but the Committee asserted in its Tuesday report that the special attention to liberal groups was for “non-political reasons” and that all seven applications that were flagged for containing the words “progress” or “progressive” were ultimately approved.
Among the senior officials blamed for the targeting or their failure to stop the selective screening of political groups, the committee calls out Doug Shulman, who led the IRS as its commissioner over the course of the alleged targeting. The Committee asserts that Shulman was aware of the targeting and failed to do act to stop it.
“Shulman failed to fully inform Congress about the IRS’s inappropriate treatment of conservative-oriented tax-exempt applications, despite his awareness of inappropriate treatment,” the committee report states.
And his deputy and later successor as acting commissioner, Steve Miller, also “failed to prevent targeting” and did not “promptly inform Congress of the misconduct,” according to the committee. Both of their chiefs of staff are also singled out.
The report also slams Holly Paz, the director of the IRS’s Rulings and Agreements section, for allowing IRS agents to use “inappropriate screening criteria.” Paz was placed on administrative leave in June 2013.
The report also suggests that Chief Counsel William Wilkins made a “deliberate attempt to obfuscate his role” in the scandal, saying he could not recall over 80 times in response to the Committee’s questions.