Friday, July 19, 2013

The Fish Rots from the Head at Pennsylvania Avenue

Guest post by Investors Business Daily

Scandal: A retiring IRS lawyer implicates the IRS chief counsel's office, headed by an Obama appointee, as well as the head of the IRS' exempt organizations office. The targeting included a Tea Party Senate candidate.

In Thursday's hearing before the House Oversight Committee, 72-year-old retiring IRS lawyer Carter Hull implicated the IRS chief counsel's office headed by William J. Wilkins, who attended at least nine White House meetings, and Lois Lerner, head of the exempt-organizations office, in the IRS scandal.

In so doing, he made clear the targeting of Tea Party groups started in Washington and was directed from Washington.
A tax-law specialist with 48 years of IRS experience, Hull testified that Lerner, the former head of the exempt organizations division, demanded that he send some of the reviews of Tea Party groups to the IRS chief counsel's office in Washington. The chief counsel is one of two political appointees in the IRS.

According to Hull's testimony, Lerner, who famously pleaded her Fifth Amendment rights before the same committee, gave an atypical instruction that the Tea Party applications undergo special scrutiny that included an uncommon multilayer review that involved a top adviser to Lerner as well as the chief counsel's office.

Hull's name came up earlier in the testimony of Holly Paz, a D.C.-based supervisor in the IRS's tax-exempt status division, who reported to Lerner. It was on May 22, the day after Paz was interviewed by investigators, that Lerner refused to answer questions from lawmakers at a congressional hearing.

According to Paz, Hull was working on about 40 Tea Party applications in the fall of 2010. She added that for several months that year, Hull worked closely with Elizabeth Hofacre, one of the alleged "rogue" agents in Cincinnati, to review the Tea Party cases.

It was Hull who instructed Hofacre's Cincinnati office, which oversaw audits of tax-exempt nonprofit groups, to target Tea Party groups and provided her a copy of a letter he wrote to a conservative group requesting additional information in an audit.

"I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on (applications) without Carter Hull's influence or input," Hofacre has told congressional investigators and has vocally said her Cincinnati office was being made a scapegoat by higher-ups in Washington. Now Hull has confirmed the premeditated targeting of Tea Party groups went even higher than him or Lerner.

At an August 2011 meeting, Hull testified, someone from the chief counsel's office said additional information was needed from Tea Party applicants that Hull was dealing with, and that a second letter should be sent out requesting that information.

Apparently not only Tea Party groups were targeted but actual candidates as well. On March 9, 2010, the day Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell revealed her plan to run for Vice President Joe Biden's former Delaware Senate seat , an IRS tax lien was placed on a house purported to be hers, an action that was quickly publicized by those who did not wish her well.

Earlier this year, Dennis Martel, special agent with the Department of Treasury in Baltimore, left a message on O'Donnell's cell phone telling her that an official in Delaware state government had improperly accessed her records on that very same day. The problem was that the house was not hers in the first place and the IRS eventually blamed the lien on a computer glitch and withdrew it.

To us it is inconceivable that one of only two political appointees was directly involved in targeting of Tea Party groups without White House knowledge and consent. It is said the fish rots from the head, and this one is really beginning to stink.

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