(WSJ) –Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency’s Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010.
Transcripts of the interviews, viewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, appear to contradict earlier statements by top IRS officials, who have blamed lower-level workers in Cincinnati.
Elizabeth Hofacre said her office in Cincinnati sought help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she started getting the tea-party cases in April 2010. Ms. Hofacre said Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, closely oversaw her work and suggested some of the questions asked applicants.
“I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull’s influence or input,” she said, according to the transcripts.
Mr. Hull could not be reached for comment.
The interview transcripts suggest it began with a search for tea-party groups by name among applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status. The Cincinnati employee who conducted the search, Gary Muthert, said he started gathering applications in March 2010, at the request of an unidentified local manager, who allegedly told him that “Washington, D.C., wanted some cases,” according to the transcripts. Mr. Muthert first heard of tea-party applications from another Cincinnati employee.
Ms. Hofacre said she was outraged last month when IRS higher-ups, including Lois Lerner, then the head of the IRS tax-exempt division, blamed the problem on employees in Cincinnati. “I was furious,” Ms. Hofacre told interviewers. “It looked like Lois Lerner was putting it on us.”
Update: Prior Tea Party targeting under Hull’s belt:
(Rummy Chick) –DC Carter Hull is the one that targeted Marianne Chifelle’s breakfasts
among others with HIS letter
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