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Who ordered that targeting of Tea Party groups be resumed in May 2012?
Howard Richman, 6/17/2013

According to May 21 testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, in July 2011 IRS targeting of conservative groups for additional scrutiny was stopped, only to be resumed in May 2012. The initial targeting was blamed upon underlings in the Cincinnati IRS office. But, mysteriously, nobody at the IRS seems to know who ordered that targeting be resumed. Senator Pat Toomey (Republican, PA) questioned Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller about it (see the 2:07 mark):

Toomey: So we're sitting here in May of 2013. At this point, do you know who it is that initiated the policy of establishing these ideological criteria for creating this additional level of screening for applicants for C4 status?

Miller: It happened twice. The second time it happened, I don't think there is clarity on that. The first time I think there's more clarity on that.

Toomey: So who was it? What was the name of the person who did it? 

Miller: I can give you the name. I'd be glad to respond to that. But I don't know off the top of my head.

Toomey: I think that's important that we understand who did that, that we know exactly who did that. Who ordered that it be stopped, which I believe occurred in July of 2011.

Miller: According to the IG Report, Lois Lerner.

Toomey: According to -- so you don't have any knowledge of that, other than the IG's report?

Miller: I believe that that's the way it happened, but I -- I believe that's the case. 

Toomey: Then who ordered that it be resumed, although using slightly different words, the same idea was resumed in May of 2012.

Miller: I believe I indicated, and I think the IG concurs, that that's less than clear.

Toomey: So why is that less than clear, even now? These are people that reported in a direct chain to you. You were the Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, reporting to you, if I understand correctly, was Sarah Hall Ingram, the Acting Commissioner for Tax Exempt and Government Entities [TE/GE] Division, the Director of  Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner, reported to her. Isn't there somebody in this chain of command? Let me put it this way: Who in this chain of command ought to know who was initiating this inappropriate activity and re-initiating it?

Miller: Somebody should have known. There is no question about that. And now there are processes in place that have made it clear exactly who has the ability to either start this listing or modify the listing. At the time, those controls were not in place.


Miller: Can I clarify one thing, Sir? I think, you know, Sarah Ingram has been used several times here already. She has been thrown into this and I don't know that that's  a fair thing. We should check the timeline. I don't believe she was working in TE/GE during the time that is being discussed here.

Toomey: I haven't accused her of anything, although I was under the impression that she was the Acting Commissioner in this regard, during this time period. [Note: Toomey's impression was correct -- Ingram was indeed Commissioner of TE/GE in May 2012.]

It is unlikely that the original IRS targeting of Tea Party groups by underlings that was stopped by their boss Lois Lerner in July 2011 would have been resumed without Lerner's approval. Lerner may have been testing out the new methods that were soon to become policy when she sent a letter to The Ohio Liberty Council Corp. on March 16, 2012.

Lerner later pleaded the Fifth Amendment rather than testify about her involvement. She would not have been hiding her role in ending the targeting in July 2011. Did she plead the Fifth Amendment to hide her role in the resumption of targeting of May 2012 -- targeting that may have been designed to neutralize the Tea Party during the run-up to the November election?

Or did she plead the Fifth in order to hide the involvement of her former boss, Sarah Hall Ingram, a frequent visitor to the White House? If so, did Ingram discuss the methods to be used with White House Staff?

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Comment by Howard Richman, 6/20/2013:

Correction: The resumption of the specific targeting of Tea Party groups occurred in January 2012, not May.

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