New evidence is emerging that the probes into the tax status of conservative organizations, which the administration has claimed were confined to a rogue operation in Cincinnati, in fact stretched well into Washington – and how far is anyone’s guess.
Increasingly, the assertion that a few dummies in Cincy did something stupid is sounding like the Nixon-era claim that Watergate was just a third-rate burglary. According to the Washington Post, Washington officials were involved in targeting conservatives, despite the contention by Lois Lerner of the IRS that this was all “front line” people in Cincy.
From the Post piece:
Internal Revenue Service officials in Washington and at least two other offices were involved with investigating conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, making clear that the effort reached well beyond the branch in Cincinnati that was initially blamed, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups, the documents show.
What’s more, Politico is reporting that Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, who at the time was a deputy commissioner, was told in May 2012 that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting conservative groups for extra review.
This would have been explosive information. Did he tell no one?
So the question is, who else knew? Who ordered the inquisition? This has rapidly streamed out of Cincinnati into Washington. Anyone at all at the White House aware of what was going on? Anyone at all on the Obama campaign, which was stocked with former White House officials?
The organizations that were being probed by the IRS in early 2012 represented perhaps the single greatest threat at the time to President Obama’s reelection. They had millions of dollars ready to go for advertising while Republican National Committee was still getting its act together and Mitt Romney’s campaign was just starting to think about running against Obama.
There’s every reason to suspect someone very senior in the administration either ordered something or knew something.
That is, the motive is there: political survival. The weapon has been recovered: The IRS. Now the suspect must be thoroughly investigated.