Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor. Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at "CNN Headline News," three years writing, copy-editing and training writers at MSNBC, and also served several local TV newsrooms as producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, "How to Write Television News."More ↓Less ↑
Two key IRS agents are directly contradicting the agency’s description of events in the scandal over the targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, according to multiple reports.
As WND has reported, IRS officials have insisted the targeting was done by two low-level agents in the Cincinnati office and was stopped by officials in Washington once they discovered it in 2011.
But two Cincinnati agents are reportedly telling congressional investigators that is not true. They say they were ordered to do the investigations by superiors, and one claims she was micromanaged by an IRS lawyer in Washington.
That agent said she was directly guided by Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, D.C., who handles tax-exempt applications.
The AP viewed the transcripts of interviews with the two Cincinnati agents and found one of the interviews suggests there is a long trail of emails supporting their claims.
Cincinnati IRS agent Elizabeth Hofacre reportedly said her supervisor, whose name was blacked out, told her to process tea-party applications selected by other agents.
But she said her work was micromanaged by Hull beginning in April 2010.
He worked in the division handling applications for tax-exempt status, but Hofacre told investigators his interest in the case was highly unusual.
AP said she told investigators, “It was demeaning” because “One of the criteria is to work independently and do research and make decisions based on your experience and education, whereas on this case, I had no autonomy at all through the process.”
Hofacre said Hull signed off on letters she sent to groups asking for more information, then he would review the responses.
She said Hull was very slow to sign off on the letters, and his micromanagement caused such delays in the processing of applications she became frustrated enough to apply for a transfer in the agency, which she got in October 2010.
Hofacre told investigators, “All I remember thinking is, ‘This is ridiculous.’ Because at the same time, you are getting calls from irate taxpayers. And I see their point.’”
Cincinnati IRS agent Gary Muthert reportedly said his local supervisor ordered him in March 2010 to see how many tax-exempt applications had “tea party” in their names.
That supervisor’s name was also blacked out.
Muthert said, “He told me that Washington, D.C., wanted some cases.”
Muthert only came up with fewer than 10 applications, but checking websites, he noticed recurring themes in their names such as “patriots” or “9-12″ project, so he looked for applications with those words, too, and after two months came up with about 40 applications.
National Review is reporting Hull is suddenly retiring after decades in the Exempt Organization, according to an IRS source. Hull would not confirm that, telling the magazine, “I cannot verify anything about this matter.”
Sources also told National Review Hull was not acting alone, his colleagues in the Technical Unit were also guiding agents in Cincinnati.
The IRS scandal is under investigation by four groups, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Justice Department.