In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) revealed that the IRS targeted Occupy groups and that the IG did not disclose this during his congressional testimony.
Rep. Cummings wrote:
New documents obtained by the Committee indicate that Mr. George did not disclose to the Committee that the IRS office in Cincinnati added a new entry to its “Be On The Lookout” (BOLO) document—on January 25, 2012—directing staff to forward applications from groups associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement to Group 7822, the same group in the Cincinnati office that was designated to handle Tea Party applicants.
The Committee has now obtained a BOLO dated February 8, 2012, that includes an entry for “‘Occupy’ Organizations” that was opened on January 25, 2012. This BOLO describes the criteria for these groups as follows:
Involve organizations occupying public space protesting in various cities, call people to assemble (people’s assemblies) claiming social injustices due to “big money” influence, claim the democratic process is controlled by wall street/banks/multinational corporations, could be linked globally. Claim to represent 99% of the public that are interested in separating money from politics and improving the infrastructure to fix everything from healthcare to the economy.
This entry is not listed in the “Historical” section of the BOLO, but rather in the “Watch List” section, and it explicitly directs IRS staff to “Forward cases to Group 7822,” which also had been designated to handle Tea Party applicants.
Another new document obtained by the Committee is an email sent from the Director of Rulings and Agreements in Washington, D.C. to Lois Lerner and several other IRS officials on May 17, 2012, proposing to replace multiple entries on the BOLO—including the Occupy entry, the general advocacy organization entry, and one other entry—with the following single entry for all applicants engaging in political activities:
501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), and 501(c)(6) organizations with indicators of significant amounts of political campaign intervention or excess private benefit to organizations or individuals. Note: typical advocacy type issues (e.g., lobbying) that are currently listed on the Case Assignment Guide (CAG) do not meet these criteria.
It is unclear why Mr. George did not disclose that IRS employees added a new BOLO entry for Occupy groups in 2012, but instead asserted that all references to “Progressive” groups were strictly “Historical.” It is also unclear why Mr. George did not mention that this 2012 BOLO directed IRS staff to take specific action to forward Occupy applications to the same IRS group in Cincinnati that handled Tea Party applicants.
Cummings wants Issa to recall J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, to testify because he wants to know why the targeting of progressives and Occupy groups was buried in the historical category not mentioned during his previous testimony.
The information that the committee recently received directly contradicts George’s previous testimony, and Rep. Cummings wants answers. If the Treasury Department’s IG had disclosed this information, he could have derailed the Republican attempts to turn this into a scandal when he first testified.
It is unclear why the Inspector General tried to classify the targeting of progressives and Occupiers as historical when the behavior occurred more recently than the supposed conservative targeting.
A new scandal is brewing around the IRS, and it involves why they chose to leak the targeting of conservative groups while hiding the targeting of progressives and Occupy groups.
It doesn’t add up, and it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that there were individuals within the IRS itself who were trying to create a partisan Obama scandal.
The IG wasn’t telling the truth when he testified, so it is time for Democrats to demand facts, and investigate how this IRS scandal was planted and harvested.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association