IRS Agents: Tea Party Scrutiny Came From Washington

Earlier today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released partial transcripts of its interviews with several IRS agents. These interviews formed at least part of the basis for Chairman Darrell Issa’s characterization of White House spokesman Jay Carney, who claimed that the IRS scandal was the work of a couple of rogue agents, as a “paid liar” on CNN this morning. You can read the partial transcripts here. These are some excerpts:

Q: But just to be clear, she told you the specific names of these applicants.
A: Yes.
Q: And she told you that Washington, D.C. had requested these two specific applications be sent to D.C.
A: Yes, or parts of them.


Q: Okay. So she asked you to send particular parts of these applications.
A: Mm‑hmm.
Q: And that was unusual. Did you say that?
A: Yes.
Q: And she indicated that Washington had requested these specific parts of these specific applications; is that right?
A: Correct.


Q: So what do you think about this, that allegation has been made, I think as you have seen in lots of press reports, that there were two rogue agents in Cincinnati that are sort of responsible for all of the issues that we have been talking about today. What do you think about those allegations? [...]

A: It’s impossible. 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.


Q: But you specifically recall that the BOLO ["Be On the Lookout"] terms included “Tea Party?”
A: Yes, I do.
Q: And it was your understanding ‑‑ was it your understanding that the purpose of the BOLO was to identify Tea Party groups?
A: That is correct.
Q: Was it your understanding that the purpose of the BOLO was to identify conservative groups?
A: Yes, it was.
Q: Was it your understanding that the purpose of the BOLO was to identify Republican groups?
A: Yes, it was.


Q: Earlier I believe you informed us that the primary reason for applying for another job in July [2010] was because of the micromanagement from [Washington, DC, IRS Attorney], is that correct?
A: Right. 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.
Q: Why didn’t you want to be associated with it?
A: 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.
Q: Did you think there was something inappropriate about what was happening in 2010?
A: Yes. The inappropriateness was not processing these applications fairly and timely.

I am not sure I agree with the apparent consensus that of the scandals now besetting the Obama administration, the IRS scandal is the most serious. I think that in important ways, Benghazi is worse. But it seems clear that we have only begun to scratch the surface of the IRS scandal.