Watchdog: Accountability

New IRS emails describe Washington direction of Tea Party targeting efforts

By |
Mark Tapscott,Watchdog,Judicial Watch,IRS,Accountability,Transparency,Lois Lerner,Email

Newly released internal Internal Revenue Service emails obtained by the group Judicial Watch document active direction by the federal tax agency's headquarters in targeting Tea Party and conservative nonprofit applicants during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns.

The emails were obtained by the conservative non-profit in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

In a July 2012 email, Holly Paz, who was then director of the IRS Rulings and Agreements division, asked IRS lawyer Steven Grodnitzky “to let Cindy and Sharon know how we have been handling Tea Party applications in the last few months.”

Cindy Thomas is the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations office in Cincinnati, and Sharon Camarillo was a senior manager in its Los Angeles office.

The email conflicts with claims by Obama administration officials that the targeting effort was done exclusively by the government workers in the Cincinnati IRS office.

Grodnitzky worked in the IRS headquarters' Exempt Organizations Technical Unit. In his response to Paz, he said his colleagues were "working the Tea party applications in coordination with Cincy. We are developing a few applications here in D.C. and providing copies of our development letters with the agent to use as examples in the development of their cases."

In a February 2010 memo, Thomas directed a colleague to "let 'Washington' know about this potentially politically embarrassing case involving a 'Tea Party' organization.

"Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a 'high profile' case. In addition to 501(c)(4) typical legislative activities, application indicates possible future political candidate support."

Portions of the February 2010 Thomas email that were redacted by the Obama administration when it was provided to the House Ways and Means Committee were left visible in the response to Judicial Watch.

A third email being made public today by Judicial Watch came from Lois Lerner, the former IRS Exempt Organizations chief who was recently held in contempt of Congress by the House of Representatives.

In the April 2013 email, Lerner describes the broad criteria for including a nonprofit applicant among those targeted as being linked to the Tea Party under the BOLO -- "Be On The Lookout" for -- designation:

Such applicants included "organizations meeting any of the following criteria as falling within the BOLO's reference to "tea party" organizations: 1. 'Tea Party', 'Patriots' or '9/12 Project' is referenced in the case file. 2. Issues include government spending, government debt and taxes. 3. Educate the public through advocacy/legislative activities to make America a better place to live. 4. Statements in the case file that are critical of the how the country is being run."

Editor's note: Judicial Watch is representing the Washington Examiner in the newspaper's federal lawsuit seeking access to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau records under FOIA.

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Washington Examiner.

View article comments Leave a comment