An inspector general’s report due for release this week says senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew that agents were targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny as early as 2011, nine months before the IRS commissioner assured Congress the targeting was not happening.
The report is certain to raise questions about the timing of the IRS’s disclosure of the targeting on Friday, how high up were the officials who knew about the practice, and whether anyone outside the agency was aware of it.
Details of the inspector general’s audit, obtained by The Washington Post from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, revealed that Lois G. Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS and made the disclosure Friday, knew about the targeting of tea party and other groups in June 2011. In March 2012, IRS Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman told Congress that the agency was not targeting conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status as “social welfare” groups…
On Friday, IRS officials said that Lerner’s admission that tea party groups had been singled out occurred because she had been asked about it at a bar association conference. But it now appears that it may also have been an effort to position the agency ahead of the bad news it knew was coming in the report.