Washington Deeply Involved in IRS Targeting, New Emails Show

IRS headquarters in Washington, D.C. / AP

This week marks one year since the IRS targeting scandal was revealed. To mark the occasion, the transparency advocacy group Judicial Watch has released a series of emails relating to the scandal.

The emails, which were produced in response to a 2013 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, highlight the extent to which the IRS targeting of conservative nonprofit groups was directed by the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, and was carried out under pressure from Senator Carl Levin (D., Mich.):

One key email string from July 2012 confirms that IRS Tea Party scrutiny was directed from Washington, DC. On July 6, 2010, Holly Paz (the former Director of the IRS Rulings and Agreements Division and current Manager of Exempt Organizations Guidance) asks IRS lawyer Steven Grodnitzky "to let Cindy and Sharon know how we have been handling Tea Party applications in the last few months."  Cindy Thomas is the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations office in Cincinnati and Sharon Camarillo was a Senior Manager in their Los Angeles office.

Grodnitzky, a senior attorney for the exempt organization office in Washington, D.C., responded that his office was "working the Tea party applications in coordination with Cincy. We are developing a few applications here in DC and providing copies of our development letters with the agent to use as examples in the development of their cases."

The newly released documents also include a number of letters and emails detailing Levin’s efforts to crack down on conservative political groups via the IRS. In one July 2012 letter to the IRS, Levin cited almost a dozen conservative groups he wanted investigated for "political activity."

Levin ramped up his campaign in a series of subsequent letters asking for copies of the IRS questionnaires filled out by conservative groups such as Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity. As early as April 2012, just as the presidential election was heating up, Levin was demanding information from the IRS regarding these group, and urging swift action due to the "urgency of the issues involved in this matter."

Earlier this year, Obama declared that there was not "even a smidgen of corruption" behind the IRS targeting.