WASHINGTON -- When three conservative groups based in Illinois applied to the IRS for tax exempt status, they did not expect the intense scrutiny the IRS put them through. And while IRS Director Lois Lerner's discriminatory tactics were revealed in 2013, the procedure started two years before.
The IRS stalled three Illinois groups - United to Restore Freedom, West Suburban Patriots and DuPage Tea Party - for months in their applications. In the end, all three two withdrew their applications. (Update on West Suburban Patriots here.)
Thursday, Judicial Watch released 294 pages of new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) "302" documents revealing that top Washington IRS officials, including Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, knew that the agency was specifically targeting "Tea Party" and other conservative organizations two full years before disclosing it to Congress and the public. An FBI 302 document contains detailed narratives of FBI agent investigations.
The Obama Justice Department and FBI investigations into the Obama IRS scandal resulted in no criminal charges.
The FBI 302 documents confirm the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) 2013 report that said, "Senior IRS officials knew that agents were targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny as early as 2011."
Lerner did not reveal the targeting until May 2013, in response to a planted question at an American Bar Association conference. The new documents reveal that then-acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller actually wrote Lerner's response: "They used names like Tea Party or Patriots and they selected cases simply because the applications had those names in the title. That was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive, and inappropriate."
The FBI documents also reveal that IRS officials stated that the agency was targeting conservative groups because of their ideology and political affiliation in the summer of 2011.
According to one senior tax law specialist, "The case seemed to be pulled because of the applicant's political affiliation and screening is not supposed to occur that way ... [Redacted] said he thought the cases were being pulled based upon political affiliations." And IRS senior official Nancy Marks, appointed by Miller to conduct an internal investigation stated, "Cincinnati was categorizing cases based on name and ideology, not just activity."
According to the FBI documents, Paz and others were informed in the late spring and summer of 2011 that Cincinnati agents were using "BOLO" (Be On the Look Out) briefing guides that instructed them to be "looking at cases using the Tea Party term."
The FBI reports that in its interview with an unidentified IRS Senior Tax Law Specialist that "she read how the case was screened and it was not because of the organization's activity. The case seemed to be pulled because of the applicant's political affiliation and screening is not supposed to occur that way..."