President Obama claimed yesterday that he found out about the scandal only last Friday when it broke in the news. If it is as described, he said, “That’s outrageous.”
Always the last to know, poor baby. Even though members of Congress were asking questions in March 2012 when then about-to-depart IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman insisted — under oath — that there was no such targeting.
The targeting was aimed at tax exempt 501(c)(4) groups initially with “tea party” or “patriot” in the title and began as early as 2010, according the IG’s report. By June of 2011 the list of search words used to find targets had grown to include “government spending, government debt or taxes; education of the public by advocacy/lobbying to ‘make America a better place to live,’?” or those generally criticizing “how the country is being run.” The report also indicates some Jewish groups were targeted and queried on their positions on Israel.
Sometime in 2011 the targeting was brought to the attention of Lois Lerner, head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division. Last spring Lerner acknowledged to congressional investigators that she was reviewing “troubling questions” about organizations being asked for lists of their donors — who are supposed to be allowed to remain anonymous under current tax law. As recently as April 2012 Lerner was still defending the practice insisting in a letter to the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that “there may be instances where donor information may be needed.”