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House Oversight Committee Issues Report on Investigation of IRS

By Bruce R. Hopkins, Editor October 17, 2013

The majority staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, on September 17, issued an update of the Committee’s investigation of the IRS’s treatment of certain applicants for recognition of exempt status. The report observes that the Committee has conducted extensive fact-finding, primarily by means of review of documents produced by federal agencies and transcribed interviews with IRS employees. This update notes the issuance by the Committee of a subpoena to the Department of the Treasury; this was done “as a result of the IRS’s obstruction of the Committee’s investigation, including the production of overly redacted and selectively redacted documents and the untimely productions of requested materials” (referenced in last month’s issue).

Stating that, although the Committee’s discovery efforts are ongoing, “it is apparent from material already available to the Committee that the IRS engaged in inappropriate and disparate treatment of conservative-oriented applicants for [recognition of] tax-exempt status.” The report details what it terms a “sustained public relations campaign,” undertaken by the administration and its allies, beginning in 2010, “seeking to delegitimize the lawful political activity of conservative tax-exempt organizations and to suppress these groups’ right to speak.” This update states that “[e]vidence available to the Committee shows that the IRS was acutely aware of this public rhetoric and that the initial Tea Party applications were first identified and elevated due to this media attention.” Thereafter, the update continues, “once the cases were identified, the IRS handled and processed the Tea Party applications in a manner distinct and unique from applications of groups engaged in similar activities.”

The report states that, “[i]n the coming weeks, the Committee will continue to vigorously investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s inappropriate treatment of certain applicants for [recognition of] tax-exempt status.” The document closes with this: “At each stage of this process, the Committee will proceed with every resource at its disposal to thoroughly uncover the truth. Despite the Obama Administration’s obstruction and obfuscation of the facts, the Committee is committed to continuing with this important investigation to hold wrongdoers accountable and bring reform to the government bureaucracy.”

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