An FBI investigation missed the IRS official who first set in motion the illegal targeting of conservative and tea party non-profit groups applying for tax exemption, documents obtained by a government watchdog group reveal.
An internal IRS document prohibited the targeted applicants from being approved automatically for tax exemption, and agency officials were told to send all such applications to the Orwellian-named Group 7822 to await additional guidance, FBI interviews obtained by Judicial Watch show. (RELATED: New FBI Docs Show IRS Tea Party Applications To ‘Black Hole’)
It’s still unclear who authored the internal document that established Group 7822 and who ordered targeted applications be sent to Group 7822.
Disgraced IRS senior executive Lois Lerner has taken most of the heat since retiring from the federal tax agency, but the FBI investigation, which resulted in no prosecutions, suggested that Lerner didn’t write the internal guidance. It’s unclear if she had a role in creating Group 7822.
Lerner learned in June or July, 2011, of the “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO) directive that told IRS officials to target conservative and tea party tax exempt applications during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns.
She “found it extraordinarily inappropriate and dangerous to use names as a way to refer to and select cases” and went “ballistic,” Lerner told the FBI. She insisted that she “did not and still does not know the name of the employee that changed the BOLO list.” (RELATED: IRS Colleagues Called Lois Lerner ‘Volatile’)
Documents show Lerner ordered the BOLO to be altered, though the IRS continued to target tea party groups through President Barack Obama’s successful 2012 re-election campaign.
IRS policy prohibits groups associated the BOLO from being automatically granted tax exemption status. Additionally, targeted applicants were sent to Group 7822 – a 12- to 15- person team created specifically “for the Tea Party cases to be held in inventory while the agent waited to receive guidance from the Washington office,” one unidentified manager told the FBI.
Another unnamed manager added: “DC is like a black hole.”
It’s unclear why the FBI did not press IRS officials on who was behind the BOLO and Group 7822. Judicial Watch did reveal, however, that a Department of Justice attorney who donated $6,750 to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee spent more than 1,500 hours on the investigation.
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