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Editor’s note: This is another in a series of “WND/WENZEL POLLS” conducted exclusively for WND by the public-opinion research and media consulting company Wenzel Strategies.
Americans by large margins believe that despite President Obama’s claims of innocence, he not only knew of the Internal Revenue Service strategy to target conservatives, he used the feared federal agency for payback against his political enemies, according to a new poll.
“An overwhelming majority of 68 percent said they believe Obama was aware of the IRS efforts to target his political opponents, and 63 percent said they believe that, not only did he know of this effort, he was directly involved in the plan,” explained Fritz Wenzel, whose Wenzel Strategies conducted the poll.
The telephone survey was done June 27-July 1 and has a margin of error of 3.25 percentage points.
“A total of 64 percent said they think the Obama administration specifically used the IRS as a tool to punish its political enemies,” Wenzel noted.
The IRS has admitted targeting conservative and Christian organizations applying for tax status. Some applications simply were left unaddressed for months, even years. In other instances, conservatives were confronted with invasive questions such as about the content of members’ prayers, their relatives, their statements and even what they may say in the future.
As a result, many of the conservative organizations on the sidelines for the 2012 election, won by Obama.
Since then, while the IRS has admitted wrongdoing, no one has faced significant punishment, and the White House repeatedly has said Obama knew nothing about it and wasn’t involved. The IRS originally tried to blame the nationwide program on a couple of low-level employees in the Cincinnati office, a claim later undermined by the IRS itself.
Asked whether they believe the IRS war against conservatives was “directed by the White House to punish political enemies,” half of Americans strongly agreed and another 14 percent said they agreed.
Only 29 percent said they disagreed.
“The White House story that Obama himself knew nothing or had no involvement in the IRS targeting is not flying with most Americans. Seven in 10 respondents said they believe it is suspicious that the former head of the IRS made more than 150 visits to the White House for meetings during the time that the targeting of conservative groups was underway,” Wenzel said.
“This collection of polling data shows that mistrust of the Obama administration is spiking, and that there is a significant, if not growing, direct connection between Obama and this controversy. While the Obama administration has more or less successfully deflected blame for a number of scandals – from Fast and Furious, the terror attacks on the American consulate at Benghazi, Libya to the widespread electronic surveillance American journalists and private citizens, among other scandals – it appears not to be able to escape direct blame for the IRS issue. This is perhaps because every citizen fears the IRS and views it as one of the most potent tools of the federal government.”
Americans are not ready to overlook or ignore such behavior. Sixty-two percent said they are “very interested” in developments while another 23 percent said they were somewhat interested.
More to the point, they want to know more, with 81 percent saying they think an independent investigator should be appointed to reveal the truth.
“What is interesting here is that, even among Democrats, 71 percent believe there should be some sort of independent counsel appointed in this case. This may be a reaction to the strong resistance among top Obama administration officials to involve any independent counsel. The more the Obama administration rejects such an investigation, one could surmise that the stronger suspicions grow that it has something to hide. This is a classic political conundrum, but the Obama administration has been so successful as deflecting most press inquiries on the subject of scandal that it might rightly assume it will get a pass from most reporters on this subject as well. Indeed, while stories of IRS targeting have mostly dropped off the mainstream media radar, the poll shows the public still reacts in a viscerally negative manner,” Wenzel explained.
Overall, two in three Americans give Obama negative marks for handling the scandal.
See detailed results of survey questions:
There has been a lot of attention to issues involving the Obama administration and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups to delay their applications for status as non-profit groups, while fast-tracking certain liberal groups to receive the same preferred tax status. How interested are you in news developments about this issue?”
At the time when the IRS was targeting conservative groups, the head of the IRS was visiting the White House for meetings more than 150 times. The previous head of the IRS visited the White House just one time during the time that he served as the leader of the IRS. Do you agree or disagree that this level of ongoing communication with the Obama administration indicates that the Obama administration was deeply involved in the discrimination against conservative groups?
Do you agree or disagree that, given the highly charged partisan atmosphere in Washington right now, that an entirely independent investigator should be appointed to get to the bottom of this story involving the IRS, the White House, and the tea party groups around the country?