Skip to content

Judicial Watch • Anatomy of a Government Conspiracy: Obama’s IRS Scandal

Anatomy of a Government Conspiracy: Obama’s IRS Scandal

IRS Scandal Timeline

IRS Scandal Timeline

Credit: Raquel DeSouza, Miranda Watson & the Investigative Department

2009

February 3- The FEC asks the IRS if they have granted tax exempt status to Tea Party groups. Lois Lerner, former Director of the IRS Tax Exempt Division, “gave the FEC the tax returns of the groups, including income, expenditures and staff pay” on conservative groups American Future Fund and American Issues Project. (Bedard, P.,Oct. 13, 2013. IRS’ Lois Lerner gave confidential tea party tax info to FEC, violating law. Washington Examiner. Retrieved from http://washingtonexaminer.com/irs-lois-lerner-gave-confidential-tea-party-tax-info-to-fec-violating-law/article/2538263)

2010

March 10- IRS starts targeting on conservative groups applying for 501(c)(4) non-profit, tax exempt status. (Erb, K. P, May 7, 2014. Updated: Timeline of IRS tax exempt organization scandal. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/05/07/updated-timeline-of-irs-tax-exempt-organization-scandal/)

July 6 2010- Holly Paz emailed Steven Grodnitzky, an attorney in the IRS’ Exempt Organization Technical Unit, in order to inform him about how her department of the IRS has been “handling Tea Party applications in the last few months” and to notify other top IRS officials of the same information. Grodnitzky replied by saying:

“EOT is working the Tea party applications in coordination with Cindy, IRS Exempt Organization Unit in Cincinnati. We are developing a few applications here in DC and providing copies of our development letters with the agent to use as examples in the development of their cases. Chip Hull [another lawyer in IRS headquarters] is working these cases in EOT and working with the agent in Cincy, so any communication should include him as well. Because the Tea party applications are the subject of an SCR [Sensitive Case Report], we cannot resolve any of the cases without coordinating with Rob [believed to be Rob Choi, then the director of the IRS’ Rulings and Agreements].” (Fitton, T. May 19, 2014. Judicial Watch’s IRS investigation leads directly to Washington. BreitBart. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/05/19/Judicial-Watch-s-IRS-Investigation-Leads-Directly-to- Washington)

2011

The Leadership Institute was audited in 2011 and 2012. They were “operating as a tax-exempt organization since 1979.” (Fitton, T., October 2013. Obama IRS scandal updates: Did Obama issue attack order against conservatives? The Verdict, 19(10), 20-21.)

The Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute had their first audit. They have been “in business for over a decade.” (Fitton, Verdict, October 2013)

June 29- Lerner learned about targeting conservative groups that have “Patriots” and “Tea Party” in their names. (NBC News 05/13/13)

2012

“The IRS scrutinized in 2012” 11 conservative and Tea Party groups; there was a BOLO, “be on the lookout,” list for these groups. These groups were intensely questioned; they were “asked for printouts of Facebook posts. And it asked what books people were reading…the agency wanted to know everything- in some cases, it even seemed curious what members were thinking.” (Fitton, T., July 2013. Judicial Watch investigates historic Obama IRS scandal. The Verdict, 19(7).)

March 12- Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse, and others “write a letter calling on the IRS to scrutinize conservative groups allegedly masquerading as 501(c)(4) “social welfare organizations.” (The IRS scandal: Timeline, n.d. DiscovertheNetworks. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1935)

March 22- Douglas Shulman, former IRS Commissioner and Wilkins’s boss, testifies before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight. He said there was “absolutely no targeting.” (Erb, May 7, 2014)

March 30- Democratic Senator, Carl Levin, writes to then IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, asking “if the IRS has been sending out additional information requests to applicant groups, and he cites an IRS rejection letter to a conservative group as an example of how the IRS should be conducting its business.” (“The IRS scandal,” n.d.)

April 23- William Wilkins, Chief Counsel of the IRS, “met with Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.” (Fitton, Verdict, October 2013) It’s unclear as to what was discussed in this meeting.

April 24- Wilkins visits the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Both “Wilkins and Shulman are the only presidential appointees inside the IRS.” (Fitton, Verdict, October 2013)

April 25- “William Wilkins sends additional comment on the draft guidance for reviewing tea party tax exempt applications, per the IRS Inspector General’s investigation and resulting report.” (Fitton, Verdict, October 2013)

May 3- Steven T. Miller, former IRS Acting Commissioner, finds out about the IRS political targeting. (“Everyone knew …except the president, n.d.)

June- For the past 27 months, “not a single Tea Party-type organization received tax exempt status.” (Judicial Watch, September 2013. JW educational event exposes stunning developments regarding Obama IRS abuse scandal. The Verdict, 19(9).)

2013

March 27- Lois Lerner emails top IRS staff discussing an upcoming hearing held by Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic Senator for Rhode Island. She enunciated the fact that the goal of the hearing was to target political parties. (Judicial Watch, June 2014. JW uncovers smoking-gun IRS records: FEC and justice discussed jailing Obama’s political opponents. The Verdict, 20(6).)

April 9- Sheldon Whitehouse holds a hearing where “in questioning the witnesses from the DOJ and the IRS, [he] asked why they have not prosecuted 501(c)(4) groups that have seemingly made false statements about their political activities.” (Judicial Watch, Verdict, June 2014)

May 1&2- Lois Lerner sends staff members multiple emails, “desperately scrambling to diffuse the emerging targeting scandal.” (Judicial Watch, Verdict, June 2014)

May 3- Steven T. Miller, former IRS Acting Commissioner, finds out about the IRS political targeting. (“Everyone Knew …Except the President, n.d.)

May 8- Lerner sends Nikole C. Flax, then IRS Chief of Staff, an email discussing the fact that she got a call from Richard Pilger, Director of the Elections Crime Branch at the Department of Justice: “He wanted to know who at the IRS the DOJ folk could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who ‘lied’ on their 1024s- saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures.” (Judicial Watch, Verdict, June 2014)

May 9- Nikole C. Flax sends Lerner an email: “I think we should do it- also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it makes sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?.” (Judicial Watch, Verdict, June 2014)

May 10- Lerner confesses at an American Bar Association meeting, that specific groups were targeted based on the title of the group or their political beliefs. She calls this: “absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate.” (Erb, May 7, 2014)

-Lerner blames “’low-level” employees in Cincinnati for targeting tax-exempt organizations.” (Judicial Watch, Verdict, June 2014)

-Lerner sends an email to an aide relating to information for a Washington Post reporter. She states that she: “can’t confirm that there was anyone on the other side of the political spectrum [targeted by the IRS]…the one with the names used were only know [sic] because they have been very loud in the press.” (Judicial Watch, Verdict, June 2014)

May 14- Steven T. Miller resigns. In his internal memo to IRS staff, he states: “This has been an incredibly difficult time for the IRS given the events of the past few days, and there is a strong and immediate need to restore public trust in the nation’s tax agency. I believe the Service will benefit from having a new Acting Commissioner in place during this challenging period.” (Hicks, J.,May 16, 2013. Steven Miller’s resignation memo to IRS employees. The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/05/16/steven-millers-resignation-memo-to-irs-employees/)

-The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) releases report stating that in early 2010, “the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organization applying for tax-exempt status (e.g., lists of past and future donors.” They also “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications preparing for the 2012 presidential election.” (Judicial Watch, Verdict, December 2013)

May 15- An IRS aide writes an email to Lerner that cites “Tea Party Organizations,” “Tea Party Movement,” and “Patriots,” as groups that the IRS targeted. (Judicial Watch, Verdict, June 2014)

May 20- Judicial Watch files three FOIA requests to the IRS. (Judicial Watch, Verdict, December 2013)

May 22- Judicial Watch files their fourth FOIA request to the IRS. (Judicial Watch, Verdict, December 2013)

Lerner pleads the Fifth to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. (Erb, May 7, 2014)

May 23-Lerner goes on administrative, paid leave. (Erb, May 7, 2014)

June 12- “The use of BOLO lists is officially suspended.” (Erb, May 7, 2014)

August 9- Judicial Watch files their fifth FOIA request to the IRS. (Judicial Watch, Verdict, December 2013)

September 23- Lerner retires following an internal investigation finding that she was guilty of “neglect of duties” and should be fired. (Judicial Watch, Verdict, December 2013)

October 9- Judicial Watch files FOIA lawsuit against the IRS. (Judicial Watch, December 2013)

2014

April 8- The Ways and Means Committee says they will “pursue contempt charges against Lerner.” (Erb, May 7, 2014)

May 14- J. Russell George, head of the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration files a report entitled “Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review.” This report “identified the targeting of Tea Party groups.”

May 14 – New documents uncovered by Judicial Watch show IRS HQ control of Tea Party targeting. Documents also reveal unusual pressure from key Democrat Senator, Carl Levin to target conservatives. (Judicial Watch, MAY 14, 2013 release)

June 13- “Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued [a statement] regarding the Internal Revenue Service informing the Committee that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009-April 2011. Due to a supposed computer crash, the agency only has Lerner emails to and from other IRS employees during this time frame. The IRS claims it cannot produce emails written only to or from Lerner and outside agencies or groups, such as the White House, Treasury, Department of Justice, FEC, or Democrat offices.” (Swinehart, Sarah, June 13, 2014 . IRS Claims to Have Lost Over 2 Years of Lerner Emails.)

June 27 – Judicial Watch attorney Ramona R. Cotca submits a motion for status conference in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to address the failure of the IRS to meet its obligation to respond to Judicial Watch’s four separate FOIA request in May of 2013. (Judicial Watch – Document Archive June 27, 2014)

July 10 – Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in Washington ordered the IRS to detail under oath how some of former agency official Lois Lerner’s emails went missing, as well as any potential methods for recovering them. (The Hill – 07/10/2014)

August 11 – IRS submits sworn declarations of IRS officials Aaron G. Signor, John H. Minsek, Stephen L. Manning, Timothy P. Camus, and Thomas J. Kane, which were provided to the federal district court on order from Judge Emmet G. Sullivan regarding the “lost” emails of Lois Lerner and other IRS officials. (Judicial Watch releases statement via press release)

August 14 – Judge Emmet G. Sullivan issues extraordinary minute order demanding more sworn statements from the IRS and has launched an independent inquiry into the issue of the missing emails associated with former IRS official Lois Lerner. (Judicial Watch via press release)

August 22 – The IRS submits second set of sworn declarations in United States District Court for the District of Columbia pursuant to the Court’s August 14 Minute Order.

August 25 – Judicial Watch releases statement on discovery of backups for “Missing” Lois Lerner IRS emails in response to the August 22 second set of sworn declarations by the IRS. (The Hill – 08/25/2014)

September 4 – Judicial Watch released a new batch (IRS Scandal Full Production 6) of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) email documents revealing that under former IRS official Lois Lerner, the agency seems to acknowledge having needlessly solicited donor lists from non-profit political groups. (Judicial Watch – 09/04/2014 release)

References

Ambord, T. & Eyden, T. (June 27 2013). IRS scandal shifts focus to Russell George. AccountingWeb. Retrieved from http://www.accountingweb.com/article/irs-scandal- shifts-focus-russell-george/222010

Bedard, P. (Oct. 13, 2013). IRS’ Lois Lerner gave confidential tea party tax info to FEC, violating law. Washington Examiner. Retrieved from http://washingtonexaminer.com/irs- lois-lerner-gave-confidential-tea-party-tax-info-to-fec-violating-law/article/2538263

Erb, K. P. (May 7, 2014). Updated: Timeline of IRS tax exempt organization scandal. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2014/05/07/updated- timeline-of-irs-tax-exempt-organization-scandal/

Everyone knew… except the president? (n.d.) GOP.

Fitton, T. (May 19 2014). Judicial Watch’s IRS investigation leads directly to Washington. BreitBart. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/05/19/Judicial-Watch-s-IRS-Investigation-Leads-Directly-to- Washington

Fitton, T. (July 2013). Judicial Watch investigates historic Obama IRS scandal. The Verdict, 19(7).

Fitton, T. (October 2013). Obama IRS scandal updates: Did Obama issue attack order against conservatives? The Verdict, 19(10), 20-21.

Hicks, J. (May 16, 2013). Steven Miller’s resignation memo to IRS employees. The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/05/16/steven-millers-resignation-memo-to-irs-employees/

IRS who’s who: Lerner, Shulman (May 21, 2013). The Wall Street Journal. http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/05/21/irs-whos-who-schulman-george-miller/

Judicial Watch. (June 2014). JW uncovers smoking-gun IRS records: FEC and justice discussed jailing Obama’s political opponents. The Verdict, 20(6).

Judicial Watch. (May 14, 2014). Judicial Watch: New documents show IRS HQ control of tea party targeting. Retrieved from http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-new-documents-show-irs-hq-control-tea-party-targeting/

Judicial Watch. (September 2013). JW educational event exposes stunning developments regarding Obama IRS abuse scandal. The Verdict, 19(9).

Judicial Watch. (December 2013). Judicial Watch sues IRS for tea party scandal records. The Verdict, 19(11), 1-4.

The IRS scandal: Timeline. (n.d.) DiscovertheNetworks. http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1935

Selyukh, A. (May 17, 2013). Factbox: Key players in the IRS scandal. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/17/us-usa-irs-people-idUSBRE94G0VB20130517

Swinehart, Sarah, June 13, 2014 . IRS Claims to Have Lost Over 2 Years of Lerner Emails. Retrieved from http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=384506)



Sign Up for Updates!