2013 Highlights: IRS scandal

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As the end of 2013 approaches, the Washington Examiner is taking a look back at the biggest stories and issues of the year. Today, it's the Internal Revenue Service scandal.

In May, it was revealed the IRS had targeted political groups applying for tax-exempt status for closer inspection based on the names or general themes of the groups. A report revealed that Lois Lerner, the Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division, was made aware of the targeting in 2011. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform took aim at the IRS with a barrage of hearings, while the White House sought to assure the public they weren't a part of the targeting.

The two major parties fought a protracted battle through the year on immigration, with the White House championing a comprehensive reform plan that House Republicans refused to take up. The debate simmered in the fall as the government shutdown and Obamacare took precedence, but complex issues like border security and H-1B visas for highly skilled workers kept popping up throughout the year.

Here are some of the top Examiner stories of 2013 on the IRS scandal:

Report: IRS targeting conservative groups since 2010

By Susan Ferrechio, May 14

"Before the NSA scandal broke out, there was another scandal that was brought to light: the IRS scandal. On May 10 the director of the IRS Exempt Organizations division Lois Lerner stated that the IRS was targeting certain conservative Tea Party groups for additional scrutiny as early as 2010. A report by the Treasury inspector general for Tax Administration showed that Lerner was informed about the targeting in June 2011. The audit report was made public on May 14."

"Internal Revenue Service employees were told as early as 2010 to ""Be On the Look Out"" for Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations seeking tax exempt status, according to a lengthy inspector general report released Tuesday.

An investigation by the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration found that IRS agents used ""inappropriate criteria"" to flag certain conservative groups for additional scrutiny, including those with ""Tea Party,"" ""Patriot"" and ""9/12"" in their names. The agency also was targeting those groups at least a year longer than previously thought.

The report confirms long held suspicions by conservative groups seeking a tax-exempt classification that they have been wrongly targeted by the IRS because of their political leanings."

Click here to read the entire story.

Congress grills IRS officials over targeting of conservative groups

By Susan Ferrechio, May 21

After the IG's report was made public, the ball started rolling on the investigation. By May 15 the acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller announced his resignation and Daniel Werfel was appointed as the next acting commissioner by Obama on May 16. Soon after, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa began an investigation into the IRS.

Lois Lerner, head of the Internal Revenue Service's Exempt Organizations Division, informed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that she will invoke Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination during her appearance Wednesday. Lerner was the first to acknowledge publicly that the IRS was targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, though she blamed the entire incident on a few rogue employees."

A committee spokesman said the panel's chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is urging Lerner to change her mind.

"The committee has a constitutional obligation to conduct oversight," the aide said. "Chairman Issa remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify [Wednesday] about her knowledge of outrageous IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs."

Click here to read the entire story.

Patient Tea Party waits to uncover full story of IRS targeting

By David M. Drucker, July 2

The Washington Examiner's David M. Drucker visited Houston and spoke to some Tea Party groups about the IRS targetting.

"For conservatives in the Heartland, it's not debatable: The Internal Revenue Service targeted Tea Party groups, the scrutiny was political and recent revelations about the tax agency have only scratched the surface.

A collection of Tea Party organizations from throughout Texas joined together on Houston's west side to share their stories and urge Congress — and each other — to keep pressing until the full scope of IRS malfeasance is uncovered and those responsible are punished.

Introduced by the event's headliner, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, activists from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Waco promised patience and perseverance, contending that most Americans have yet to grasp the full extent of what they've been through."

Click here to read the entire story.

Obama calls up Danny Werfel, Washington's cleanup man, to restore trust in the scandal-plagued IRS

By Susan Crabtree, July 11

After IRS Administrator Steven Miller resigned under the pressure of the scandal, the White House made Werfel the acting IRS administrator and asked him to get the agency in order.

"The choice had some longtime Washington observers scratching their heads. How could a 42-year-old, behind-the-scenes bureaucrat who's known to friends and colleagues alike as ""Danny"" have the gravitas to carry out such a difficult task?

But his former colleagues at the Office of Management and Budget weren't questioning the pick at all.

After all, Werfel, who earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina and has a master's in public policy from Duke University, had became the president's go-to ""Mr. Fix It"" in recent years — helping manage the sequester's budget cuts earlier this year and prepare for the possibility of a government shutdown in 2011.

Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit that promotes civil service and government efficiency, described Werfel as a great utility infielder that the IRS got in an amazing trade.

Click here to read the entire story.

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Elliot Smilowitz

Senior Web Producer and Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner

Meghana Kurup

Web Producer
The Washington Examiner