IRS Scandal: One Step Removed From the White House – Carter Hull’s testimony has taken this scandal to another level
Arnold Ahlert * Canada Free Press
Last week, while much of the nation’s attention was turned toward the Zimmerman verdict and the antics of the racial grievance industry, the IRS scandal got far more intense. According to top IRS lawyer Carter Hull, the Chief Counsel’s office of the IRS, headed by Obama appointee William Wilkins, was instrumental in the agency’s campaign of harassment and discrimination against conservative and certain pro-Israel groups.
In interviews, Hull informed congressional investigators that his superiors told him that Wilkins’ office would need to be involved in additional reviews of previously screened applications because of “potential political activity.” Thus, the Democrat-led effort to keep this scandal confined to a few “rogue” agents in Cincinnati has gone down in flames.
Wilkins, appointed by Obama in 2009, is one of only two political appointees in the entire agency made by the president. In the Inspector General’s (IG) report on the scandal, the timeline of events established that Wilkins knew about the abuse of conservative groups at least as early as August 4, 2011. Yet in a press conference held on May 15, 2013, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked if Wilkins had shared that information with the White House. Carney said he didn’t know, and when pressed about whether the president should have been informed, he said that Obama first learned about the scandal “through media reports” on Friday, May 10. In other words, Americans are expected to believe that Wilkins never said a word to the president about this dubious targeting of right-wing groups for the 21 months (or more) that he was aware of it.
Top IRS official Lois Lerner’s staged “inadvertent” confession
That may very well be true. But, like so many scandals plaguing this administration, the ongoing evolution of this story makes such a scenario hard to swallow. That evolution began with top IRS official Lois Lerner’s staged “inadvertent” confession to the crime at a tax conference hosted by the American Bar Association. In subsequent congressional hearings, both Lerner and former IRS acting commissioner Steven Miller attempted to confine the scandal to “rogue agents” in Cincinnati.
That story disintegrated when House investigators talked to those agents, who said they were directed by Washington. Elizabeth Hofacre, who processed the Cincinnati unit’s Tea Party applications, testified that she felt her work was “micromanaged” by Washington, D.C. “My frustration was primarily that I had to sit on them and wait for guidance from D.C.,” Hofacre told members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. She further noted she was “deeply offended” by the attempt made by senior officials to blame the scandal on her office. “Personally, I felt like it was a nuclear strike. I felt they were blaming us,” she said.
Hofacre then moved the story up the bureaucratic pecking order, saying her supervisors told her to contact Carter Hull.
In his appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last Thursday, Hull, a 48-year IRS veteran who is retiring, said he “was assigned by my supervisor to work on two applications of tea party groups. In that same month, I became aware that a group of tea party applications were being held by EO (Exempt Organizations) determinations in Cincinnati.” Hull continued:
It was my understanding that the applications assigned to me would be ‘test cases’ to provide guidance for those other applications. I was also told by my supervisor that I was to coordinate the review of the tea party applications that were assigned to Elizabeth Hofacre in Cincinnati
He further noted that his micromanaging of Hofacre’s work was not of his own doing. He too was given orders from higher ups, who told him to forward documents to Lois Lerner’s advisor. Subsequently, he was told to send them to the Office of Chief Counsel for review.
Hull also cited an August 2011 meeting where he was told by a member of the Office that the Tea Party applicants he was dealing with would have to supply the IRS with additional information, and that a second letter should be sent to those organizations making that request. Hull noted that after he received the second responses, he felt he could make a determination about whether applications should be confirmed or denied. His recommendations were apparently ignored.
Michael Seto, head of Hull’s IRS unit, told investigators that Lerner made the “unusual” decision to subject Tea Party applications to a multi-layered review.
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