New Documents Reveal Top Obama IRS Official Admitted Cincinnati Office Targeted Groups Based on ‘Guilt by Association’
NOVEMBER 16, 2016
‘Q’s were not activity based, but guilt by association questions – like q’s asking party affiliation’ – Holly Paz, former IRS director of Office of Rulings and Agreements
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained 1593 pages of new documents from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including notes from a 2011 interoffice meeting revealing a top IRS official admitted that Cincinnati office agents were targeting organizations requesting tax exempt status based on “guilt by association” and “party affiliation.” According to former IRS Director of the Office of Rulings and Agreements Holly Paz, “they think they know what the org is really doing, rather than looking at actual activities.”
The new documents came in response to a Judicial Watch October 2013 Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Internal Revenue Service (No. 1:13-cv-01559)) against the IRS seeking the following:
- All records related to the number of applications received or related to communications between the IRS and members of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate regarding the review process for organizations applying for tax exempt status under 501(c)(4);
- All records concerning communications between the IRS and the Executive Branch or any other government agency regarding the review process for organizations applying for tax exempt status under 501(c)(4);
- Copies of any questionnaires and all records related to the preparation of questionnaires sent to organizations applying for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status.
- All records related to Lois Lerner’s communication with other IRS employees, as well as government or private entity outside the IRS regarding the review and approval process for 501 (c)(4) applicant organizations.
Included in the newly obtained IRS documents were handwritten notes from an unidentified source at an interoffice meeting in the Washington headquarters, which apparently took place in or around August 2011. According to an IRS court filing provided to Judicial Watch by the IRS, the notes were part of information taken from “four Chief Counsel employees (Victoria Judson, Janine Cook, Susan Brown, and Don Spellmann), Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division employee Nalee Park, and former IRS employee Sarah Hall Ingram.” The notes reveal Paz’ concerns about the Cincinnati office’s targeting of groups based upon ideology and party affiliation:
Holly – Cinci paralyzed by letting any issue go unaddressed. They think they know what the org is really doing, rather than looking at actual activities. Q’s were not activity based, but guilt by association questions – like q’s asking party affiliations …
They see approval of something that will turn out to be very bad org – terrified of that – that’s why they personally will need to have power to say yes. Agents felt if they could ask enough questions, they will find a problem. Agents were jumping to negative conclusions and assumptions – particularly where relationship with political groups or affiliations.
“This further confirms the IRS knew about abuses years before they were exposed. President Trump needs to reopen the criminal investigation of the IRS as soon as he is sworn into office,” said Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton.
The Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuits came on the heels of an explosive May 14, 2013, Treasury Inspector General report revealing that the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status. The IG probe determined that “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to (e.g., lists of past and future donors).” According to the report, the illegal IRS reviews continued for more than 18 months and “delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications” preparing for the 2012 presidential election.
For the full history on this case, click here.