The temporary chief of the Internal Revenue Service told reporters Monday that the agency was “on the lookout” for more than just Tea Party groups when it came to organizations seeking tax exempt status.
Acting IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel pointed to a “wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum,” when it came to targeting for special scrutiny.
Werfel made the comments after announcing the release of a new 83-page report by the IRS about an ongoing review of the targeting of conservative groups and what Werfel has done to reform the agency.
Among the steps taken, Werfel said, is the elimination of the use of “Be On the Lookout” or “BOLO” lists infamously used by agents to target certain groups applying for an exemption from federal taxes.
The White House reiterated President Obama’s commitment to reforming the IRS after Werfel’s comments.
“As the president has made clear, the misconduct identified in last month’s inspector general report is unacceptable,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “He will not tolerate inappropriate behavior in any agency and the president believes that IRS personnel must operate with absolute integrity, fairness and neutrality.”
The targeting of conservative groups was revealed last month by a Treasury Inspector General audit and has led to congressional hearings and a major shakeup in IRS leadership.
Top IRS officials have said that the lists were initially devised by a small group of IRS employees in a Cincinnati office, but congressional investigators have traced it all the way to IRS officials in Washington D.C.
Still, Werfel, who was installed to help reform the agency, insisted to reporters on Monday that there was no political motivation behind the targeting and no apparent link to the Obama Administration.
“We have not found evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone inside the IRS or involvement in these matters by anyone outside the IRS,” Werfel said.
The report instead found “significant management and judgement failures,” within the IRS that prompted the targeting.
And while Werfel acknowledged broader targeting, he did not say specifically who was targeted in the wider net. Many Democrats have tried to show that liberal groups were also targeted but so far there is little evidence to back up that argument.
Werfel said he has “installed new leadership” along the entire chain of management that oversees the agency’s tax exempt division.
The former head of that group, Lois Lerner, has refuse to resign and is on paid administrative leave.
Werfel, in the report, said he is overhauling the entire process the IRS uses to screen tax exempt applicants as well as the creation of an “Advocacy Application Review Committee,” to review decisions made about applications.