Cincinnati IRS employee: Washington was ‘basically throwing us underneath the bus’
In interviews with House Oversight Committee investigators, Cincinnati IRS employees said that they believed that targeting of conservative groups came from Washington, not from a couple of “rogue agents. “
Sunday the House Oversight Committee released partial transcripts of Oversight Committee investigators’ interviews with unnamed Cincinnati IRS employees, which contradicts the line coming from the White House.
“It’s impossible,” an IRS employee responded to an investigator’s question about the allegations that the targeting of conservative groups was due to “two ‘rogue agents.” “As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen.”
Answering a question about the employee’s reaction to news reports that the targeting was contained in Cincinnati and the fault of the Cincinnati office, the employee said that Washington has been throwing them under the bus.
“Well, it’s hard to answer the question because in my mind I still hear people saying we were low‑level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C. So, take it for what it is,” a Cincinnati IRS employee said. “They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.”
The employee further noted that it was a supervisor who requested they do a search for tea party and similar applications in March of 2010.
“Did [your supervisor] give you any indication of the need for the search, any more context?” an investigator asked.
“He told me that Washington, D.C., wanted some cases,” the employee responded, going on to answer that by April 2010 the group was handling fewer than 40 cases and had sent seven cases to Washington, D.C.
When asked for the reason behind the request that cases be sent to Washington, D.C. the employee responded, “He said Washington, D.C. wanted seven. Because at one point I believe I heard they were thinking 10, but it came down to seven. I said okay, seven.”
The employee explained that the Cincinnati office sent the first seven cases that had come into the system.
The employee further noted that Washington, D.C. had additionally requested the applications or parts of the applications for two specific groups.
Investigator: “But just to be clear, she told you the specific names of these applicants.”
IRS employee: “Yes.”
Investigator: “And she told you that Washington, D.C. had requested these two specific applications be sent to D.C.”
IRS employee: “Yes, or parts of them.”
According to the partial transcript, the employee noted that this was an unusual request.
The employee added that the Cincinnati IRS employees were just following orders and that the employee believed those instructions came from Washington, D.C.
Investigator: “So is it your perspective that ultimately the responsible parties for the decisions that were reported by the IG are not in the Cincinnati office?”
IRS employee: “I don’t know how to answer that question. I mean, from an agent standpoint, we didn’t do anything wrong. We followed directions based on other people telling us what to do.”
Investigator: “And you ultimately followed directions from Washington; is that correct?”
IRS employee: “If direction had come down from Washington, yes.”
Investigator: “But with respect to the particular scrutiny that was given to Tea Party applications, those directions emanated from Washington; is that right?”
IRS employee: “I believe so.”
Another interviewee, described by the Oversight Committee as a more senior IRS employee, complained about micromanagement from Washington, D.C. that ultimately led the employee to apply for another job in July 2010.
“It was the whole Tea Party. It was the whole picture. I mean, it was the micromanagement. The fact that the subject area was extremely sensitive and it was something that I didn’t want to be associated with,” the more senior IRS employee told an investigator who was asking about his decision to find another job.
The more senior employee added that what was going on was “inappropriate.”
Investigator: “Why didn’t you want to be associated with it?”
IRS employee: “For what happened now. I mean, rogue agent? Even though I was taking all my direction from EO Technical [Washington, D.C], I didn’t want my name in the paper for being this rogue agent for a project I had no control over.”
Investigator: “Did you think there was something inappropriate about what was happening in 2010?”
IRS employee: “Yes. The inappropriateness was not processing these applications fairly and timely.”