‘They Knew’: Top Treasury Officials Told of IRS Probe in June 2012

Senior Treasury officials were notified in June 2012 that investigators were examining complaints from tea party groups, who claimed that they were being harassed by the Internal Revenue Service.

Treasury inspector general said Friday that treasury officials were aware of the investigations, the fact that means that Obama administration officials knew there was a probe during the heat of the presidential campaign. Photo: 757Live/Flickr

J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, appeared in court alongside with IRS head Steven Miller, who did little to subdue Republican outrage during hours of intense questioning by Congress members, reports The Huffington Post.

Miller was forced to acknowledge agency mistakes in targeting tea party groups for special scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, but he still insisted that his employees hadn’t violated any law .

The IRS head only faced the heavy criticism of many Republicans, who are accusing the administration on a sudden spate of other controversies, as well, even as some Democrats tried to contain the political damage.

“I don’t know that I got any answers from you today,” Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., told Miller. “I am more concerned today than I was before.”

Treasury IG George admitted that he had told the department’s general counsel about the  investigation on June 4, 2012, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly thereafter.”

However, George mentioned, those discussions were “not to inform them of the results of the audit. It was to inform them of the fact that we were conducting the audit.”

After the hearing, inspector general spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar said George “informed Department of Treasury officials that we were looking into the IRS’ handling of applications for tax-exempt status, partly due to allegations raised by conservative organizations.”

Kraushaar insisted that the disclosure was part of a routine briefing about the activities conducted by the office.

By the way, the Treasury Department report did not list individuals who worked for IRS headquarters or its Cincinnati field office who were responsible for coming up with the criteria used to single out conservative groups. The Treasury is continuing its investigation.

And though Republicans have vowed to find out who was involved, Miller refused to provide much of a road map, Reuters writes.

“Who is responsible for targeting these individuals?” asked Representative Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican. “I don’t have names for you,” Miller replied.

Republicans immediately accused the IRS head of dodging their questions.

“I’m hearing, ‘I don’t know, I don’t remember, I don’t recall, I don’t believe,'” said Representative Dave Reichert of Washington. “You don’t even know who investigated the case, but yet you say it was investigated.”

Democrats seemed more inclined to accept Miller’s explanation. “I am not convinced that this is a great big political conspiracy,” Democratic Representative Danny Davis said.

Two other congressional committees are set to held IRS hearings next week. One of them, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, plans to question five lower-level IRS employees over whether they played a role in the targeting of conservative groups that caused a national scandal.

Wolin and Douglas Shulman, who was IRS commissioner when the targeting occurred, also are scheduled to testify, the media reports.

As the Friday’s hearing came to the end, Camp, the committee chairman, declared, “I promise the American people this investigation has just begun.”

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