On Tuesday, the Department of Justice started a criminal investigation into the overzealous scrutiny of applications to the IRS for tax-exempt status by conservative groups. The scrutiny has been considered improper targeting that has been blamed in a report by the inspector general on staff that was confused and oversight that was lax.
The auditors announced that the activities deemed improper had not been influenced by any organization or individual outside the Internal Revenue Service. The auditors were told this by officials from the IRS.
The report instead painted a picture of a Cincinnati based IRS unit that used criteria that was inappropriate for deciding what application to look into, without any review by the senior management.
Groups that used the words “tea party” in the title of their names were targeted and that went on for at least 18 months. Some applications requesting nonprofit status during this time, languished for over three years, said the contents of the report.
The statement saying no one outside the offices of the IRS had been involved would counter Republican Party leader’s efforts to depict the actions by the IRS as being politically motivated and tied to the White House.
Jay Carney, the Press Secretary at the White House, found himself barraged by questions Tuesday and said no one in the White House had been aware of the IRS scandal until April, when the counsel’s office for the White House was briefed about it.
However, the controversy did not show any signs of abating, with both the Senate and House prepared to start hearings. Up first on all agendas will be questions as to why officials from the IRS, who had been aware of what had been taking place, continued assuring Congress that there was no improper targeting taking place.