Retiring IRS lawyer Carter C. Hull’s testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in which he implicated an Obama appointee, will ensure that the IRS proceedings last through the summer, according to insiders close to the situation.
Hull has already implicated Obama-appointed IRS chief counsel William Wilkins and Washington-based IRS official Lois Lerner in his testimony.
“In April of 2010, I was assigned by my supervisor to work on two applications of tea party groups. In that same month, I became aware that a group of tea party applications were being held by EO determinations in Cincinnati,” Hull testified in his opening statement before California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s committee.
“It was my understanding that the applications assigned to me would be ‘test cases’ to provide guidance for those other applications. I was also told by my supervisor that I was to coordinate the review of the tea party applications that were assigned to Elizabeth Hofacre in Cincinnati,” Hull testified.
As The Daily Caller previously reported, Hull instructed Hofacre’s Cincinnati office, which oversaw audits of tax-exempt nonprofit groups, to target tea party groups and provided her a copy of a letter he wrote to a conservative group requesting additional information in an audit. Hull signed a May 12, 2010 letter to the Albuquerque Tea Party, grilling the group on the recent content of its newsletters and its website.
“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 told congressional investigators. Hofacre’s testimony led Hull to be summoned to the committee.
Hull, 72, implicated the IRS Chief Counsel’s office, headed by Obama appointee William J. Wilkins, and Lois Lerner, the embattled head of the IRS’s exempt organizations office, in the IRS targeting scandal and made clear that the targeting started in Washington, according to leaked interviews that Hull granted to the Oversight Committee in advance of Thursday’s hearing.
“In April 2010, Mr. Hull was instructed to scrutinize certain Tea Party applications by one of his superiors in Washington. According to Mr. Hull, these applications were used as ‘test’ cases and assigned to him because of his expertise and because IRS leadership in Washington was ‘trying to find out how [the IRS] should approach these organizations, and how [the IRS] should handle them,’” according to Oversight Committee documents.
“According to Hull’s testimony, Ms. Lerner…gave an atypical instruction that the Tea Party applications undergo special scrutiny that included an uncommon multi-layer review that involved a top advisor to Lerner as well as the Chief Counsel’s office,” according to Oversight Committee documents.
In August 2012, the “Chief Counsel’s office held a meeting with Mr. Hull, Ms. Lerner’s senior advisor, and other Washington officials to discuss these test applications.”
Hull’s testimony set off a storm of controversy among figures close to the case.
“This is one of the most extremely disturbing revelations yet,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents more than 40 tea party plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the IRS.
“It is now clear that the IRS Chief Counsel, appointed by President Obama in 2009, was involved in examining and reviewing applications from Tea Party groups – many that were basically shut out of the 2010 election process because of delays in handling of their applications. This development raises significant questions about what the White House knew and when. In a politically charged run-up to the 2010 election, why was one of President Obama’s most trusted and partisan appointees involved in examining the applications for Tea Party groups? We look forward to tomorrow’s testimony and further information about the origins of this unlawful and unconstitutional scheme that violated the First Amendment rights of our clients,” Sekulow said.