Lawyers: Targeting of conservatives more vast than just Cincinnati, also involved DC office

Lawyers representing Tea Party groups are disputing the Internal Revenue Service’s claim that the discrimination against Tea Party and conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status was initiated by low-level employees at an IRS office in Cincinnati.

According to the lawyers, the practice was more vast and included IRS officials in Washington, D.C.

David French, senior counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents 27 Tea Party groups, told The Daily Caller that the IRS’ Cincinnati office was not the only unit targeting Tea Party and conservative groups for increased scrutiny.

“We’ve dealt with two offices in California, the one in Cincinnati of course, and one in Washington, D.C. So when that story came out on Friday, we knew instantaneously it was false, because we had personal dealings with four different IRS offices from coast to coast and that was in connection with our representing 27 Tea Party groups and conservative groups in 19 states,“ French said, adding that the two California offices were located in Laguna Niguel and El Monte.

“We knew from the beginning that this was not just a low-level Cincinnati employee operation,” French said.

Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP who represents conservative groups, echoed French’s concerns and experience.

“That’s a cover-up,” she told TheDC of the IRS’ claim Friday that the practice was initiated by the Cincinnati unit of the IRS.

Mitchell also said there were offices in Washington and California that gave her clients issues.

“I was told and one of my clients was told that it really didn’t matter where your application was pending, it was all being run out of Washington,” she said, adding that she heard that more than once.

In a letter to the IRS Friday, Mitchell called on the IRS to identify all the employees involved in the strategy to target conservative groups.

“[T]his experience was too widespread to be the result of a few ‘low level’ individuals acting on their own. Rather, the burdensome questions and exhaustive reviews — and the extreme delays in processing applications for exempt status were and continue to be too comprehensive and involved more than one IRS office, including the IRS offices in Washington DC, to be considered ‘isolated,’” she wrote.