WASHINGTON — Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George said Friday that he had made Treasury officials aware last June that he was looking into whether the Internal Revenue Service was applying heightened levels of scrutiny to conservative groups claiming tax-exempt status.
Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee, George said that he had notified the general counsel of the Treasury Department of the investigation on June 4, 2012.
George said he “subsequently, and I do not have the exact date, alerted the deputy secretary, Neal Wolin, about this matter.”
The inspector general lamented that “unfortunately, I don’t keep a date planner,” but said the date at which he notified Wolin was “shortly” after the time he spoke with the general counsel.
He said he would do his best to figure out the exact date.
The notifications were made as part of a “very much pro forma” briefing of the deputy treasury secretary, TIGTA Communications Director Karen Kraushaar told reporters after the hearing, and were just an “explanation to the deputy treasury secretary of what the areas of inquiry would be over the next year.”
Still, timing of the notification would mean that members of the Obama administration were made aware of possible wrongdoing well before the 2012 election.
George said during the hearing that he has monthly meetings with the general counsel, and meets with the deputy secretary “on an as needed basis.”
George said he made Treasury Secretary Jack Lew aware of the investigation after he assumed the post in February 2013, after the election.
Lew told Bloomberg TV Friday that he was notified of the investigation “in mid-March.”