Treasury Inspector General Blocked IRS From Releasing Documents That Show Agency Targeted Progressive Groups


Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George

Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George

The Inspector General conducting the investigation into the Internal Revenue Services’ improper targeting of conservative groups applying for 501 (c)(4) status is preventing the agency from turning over documents showing that progressive organizations were similarly subject to additional scrutiny, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee said on Wednesday.

The allegations come as J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), prepares to explain why he never informed Congress that investigators found “no indication that pulling these selected applications was politically motivated” or that progressive groups were also targeted.

George will testify before the Committee on Thursday and will undoubtedly face questions about why he “personally intervened to block the IRS from turning over documents relating to progressive or left-leaning groups that received treatment similar to Tea Party applicants for tax exempt status,” the Committee’s minority staff said in a press release issued today.

That allegation came from Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel on Wednesday, who testified that George asked the agency to withhold the documents, arguing that they would reveal information about specific tax payers, in violation of U.S. law. IRS career professionals had cleared the documents for release and the agency was preparing to send the information to Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA).

Since George issued his report, House Oversight Committee investigators discovered that IRS scrutiny of 501 (c)(4) groups was far more widespread than he had originally reported. A 2010 Power Point presentation instructing IRS officials how to handle sensitive cases and included words like “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” “9/12 Project,” and also “Progressive.” George had previously denied that the term “Progressive” was used in the screening process.

Investigators also found that the term “Occupy” was featured on a “Watch List” from January 2012 “and were to be referred to the same IRS group that was handling the ‘Tea Party’ cases.” All IRS employees interviewed by the committee also denied any political bias in the vetting process and claimed that they identified the names for additional guidance about how to process the information.