Twelve different groups within the IRS targeted conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt nonprofit status, according to the attorneys representing tea party plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the IRS.
The revelation disproves the suggestion by a top congressional Democrat that only one IRS group was responsible for scrutinizing tea party and conservative applications.
Group 7821, Group 7822, Group 7823, Group 7824, Group 7827, Group 7828, Group 7829, Group 7830, Group 7838, EOG-7887, and EOG-7888, and the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division in Washington, D.C. all targeted conservative groups between 2010 and 2012, according to documentation compiled by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has filed a class-action suit against the IRS.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigating the IRS targeting scandal, previously suggested that tea party applications were sent only to Group 7822 for scrutiny. Cummings released transcripts of an interview his staff conducted with John Shafer, an employee of the Cincinnati IRS office, who claimed that he sent tea party applications specifically to Group 7822.
“Based upon everything I’ve seen the case is solved,” Cummings said on CNN during a June 9 interview.
The ACLJ disagrees.
“[John] Shafer was just one individual describing his experience interacting with one group [Group 7822]. If he was only interacting with one group then his involvement in this process was minimal,” ACLJ senior counsel David French told The Daily Caller.
“Group 7822 was pinpointed because of the release from Rep. Cummings, which created the impression that there were one or two agents that referred to a single group,” French said. “In fact we are dealing with multiple IRS offices across the nation that were targeting conservative groups, and eleven different IRS groups beside Group 7822, including the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division in Washington. Each of these groups was working on tea party and conservative cases.”
“After Rep. Cummings’ statement, the media fixated on Group 7822 as the patient zero of the outbreak when the reality is it was many groups, so the IRS hierarchy is much more implicated,” French said.
Between 2010 and 2012, the IRS sent letters to tea party applicants across the country demanding more information before their tax-exempt applications could be approved. On the upper left-hand corner of these letters, the IRS identified the working group within the agency requesting the information. Twelve different groups appeared on these letters, according to French.
The El Monte, California IRS office, for instance, sent a letter requesting additional information to Oklahoma City Patriots in Action, dated February 9, 2012, which listed the IRS group EOG-7887 in the upper left-hand corner.
“We’re going to find out the differences between these IRS groups in litigation,” French said. “Which personnel were in each group? Was there overlap in personnel?”
It remains unclear whether these IRS groups existed prior to the targeting. It is also unclear whether these groups each had their own physical locations, according to French.
Despite claims by IRS officials that the targeting occurred only in the agency’s Cincinnati office, the ACLJ compiled letters proving that IRS offices in Washington, D.C. and the California cities of El Monte and Laguna Niguel also targeted conservatives. The Daily Caller has also reported that the agency’s Baltimore and Chicago offices engaged in the improper targeting.
Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre told congressional investigators that Washington-based IRS lawyer Carter Hull oversaw her office’s targeting, and even instructed her on how to demand additional information from tea party groups. “I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull’s influence or input,” Hofacre said.
“We know that the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division in Washington, D.C. was involved, and that’s where Carter Hull and Lois Lerner were working. We have 14 letters directly from Lois Lerner,” French said. “When Lois Lerner said on May 10 that this was just a few agents in Cincinnati, we were literally holding in our hands 14 letters that she wrote to conservative groups.”
The IRS did not immediately return a request for comment.