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IRS victims testify as new agency scandal emerges

By Alan Fram & Stephen Ohlemacher

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:23 a.m. HST, Jun 04, 2013

WASHINGTON » Conservative groups who were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service are getting their say on Capitol Hill just as the details of another IRS controversy are being made public.

The leaders of six conservative groups were scheduled to tell lawmakers Monday about their mistreatment at the hands of IRS agents. Several of the groups say their applications for tax-exempt status were delayed while agents asked intrusive questions that the IRS has since acknowledged were inappropriate. One group, the National Organization for Marriage, says the IRS publicly disclosed confidential information about donors.

Leaders of the groups were scheduled to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee. Ways and Means is one of three congressional committees investigating the IRS' treatment of such groups. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation.

For more than 18 months during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns, IRS agents in a Cincinnati office singled out tea party and other conservative groups for additional scrutiny when they sought tax-exempt status, according to a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration.

The report said tea party groups were asked inappropriate questions about their donors, their political affiliations and their positions on political issues. The additional scrutiny delayed applications for an average of nearly two years, making it difficult for many of the groups to raise money.

George was scheduled to release another report Monday, one that said the IRS spent $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012.

The conference spending included $4 million for an August 2010 gathering in Anaheim, Calif., for which the agency did not negotiate lower room rates, even though that is standard government practice, according to a statement by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which requested the report.

Instead, some of the 2,600 attendees received benefits, including baseball tickets and stays in presidential suites that normally cost $1,500 to $3,500 a night. In addition, 15 outside speakers were paid a total of $135,000 in fees, with one paid $17,000 to talk about "leadership through art," the committee said.

"I am absolutely appalled at the apparent waste of taxpayer dollars on frivolous conferences," said Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "It seems we have a new misstep every day at the IRS."

Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel has called the conferences "an unfortunate vestige from a prior era."

Werfel took over the agency about two weeks ago, after President Barack Obama forced the previous acting commissioner to resign.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday the president had not seen the forthcoming report. But, Carney said, Obama believed the IRS conduct was inappropriate.

When Obama appointed Werfel as acting head of the IRS, he ordered him to conduct a 30-day review of the agency's operations.

"We must have the trust of the American taxpayer. Unfortunately, that trust has been broken," Werfel told a House Appropriations subcommittee Monday. "The agency stands ready to confront the problems that occurred, hold accountable those who acted inappropriately, be open about what happened and permanently fix these problems so that such missteps do not occur again."

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peanutgallery wrote:
The new just keeps getting worse for this administration. We should be talking impeachment already. If it was a Republican in the White House, we would be.
on June 4,2013 | 03:53AM
serious wrote:
I agree, peanutgallery. A Canadian, on the bus, the other day asked me why Obama ran as a black when he is half and half--I told her it's the race card. He gets immunity from the press because if anything derogatory is said, someone one in his party will call it racist and the media doesn't want to go there. Jimmie Carter being one. Even Tiger Woods has the same immunity. When they changed the course at Augusta Barkley called it racist.
on June 4,2013 | 06:08AM
mikethenovice wrote:
What's the name of your movie, peanutgallery? Sounds like a fiction movie?
on June 4,2013 | 06:17AM
cojef wrote:
Saw a segments of the hearings and it doesn't bode well for the IRS, especially for the person that was in charge in the Cincinnati office. Many of the testimonies indicate Gestapo, KGB or Nixon's enemies list tactics, as well as stalling scheme till after the last election before approvals for the exempt status was approved. One of the testimonial brought years to my eyes when she pleaded that her freedom was in jeopardy which her fore bearers fought for to form this democracy. Like, "give me liberty or death". Powerful. Wonder if the person who pled the 5th can sleep at nights, I certainly could not if was party to such heinous acts.
on June 4,2013 | 06:09AM
Pacej001 wrote:
The person who took the 5th thinks that such behavior by the IRS is just fine which is very unsettling.
on June 4,2013 | 09:25AM
mikethenovice wrote:
Another Republican scare tactics to embarrass the Democrats. This problem with the IRS has be going on way before Obama was in office. Didn't we have a Republican President back then. The Republicans are mum when a Republican is in office.
on June 4,2013 | 06:15AM
control wrote:
Yeah, republicans love fishing expeditions so long as they aren't the target. And when it does happen to them, they get their panties in a twist.
on June 4,2013 | 07:49AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Fishing expedition??? In this case the fish caught itself. (the IRS IG report brought this whole mess to light). Blaming the Republicans amounts to avoiding the issue.
on June 4,2013 | 09:28AM
Ronin006 wrote:
And fish rot starting at the head.
on June 4,2013 | 10:35AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Reminder: We've had democrats in congress fully capable of investigating IRS abuses. What we evidently haven't had is IRS abuses as bad or widespread as those under Obama.
on June 4,2013 | 09:27AM
mikethenovice wrote:
The IRS has always given me great service whenever I call them for tax saving tip.
on June 4,2013 | 06:16AM
thepartyfirst wrote:
on June 4,2013 | 08:47AM
sailfish1 wrote:
If these are political groups, why should they be given "tax exempt" status? The IRS does NOT give tax exempt status to every one that applies. Maybe they were targeted rightly.
on June 4,2013 | 06:49AM
Pacej001 wrote:
The IRS has already admitted (and apologized for) unfairly targeting the conservative groups. In other words, they applied the tax law unfairly, unevenly against the Tea Party and other groups. In the news today are reports that the targeting was both intentional and politically motivated. Beyond this act, the IRS is also accused of leaking confidential Romney tax information and harassing Romney donors with multiple, expensive audits. Even worse, one group in Texas was audited (business and personal) as well as visited by OSHA and the FBI, first time occurrences after the person attempted to start a non profit to look into voter fraud.--------- This thing, which is actually four or five scandals in one, may very well go beyond the IRS.
on June 4,2013 | 09:37AM
thepartyfirst wrote:
No one should be targeted just because they are of a different opinion or speaks out against the current White House Administration.
on June 4,2013 | 09:50AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Do your homework, sailfish1, and research the subject. You will find that non-profit political groups are eligible for tax exempt status providing they do not promote or advocate for particular candidates for office. They can be involved in programs to educate people about social and political issues, voter registration, programs to get out the vote, programs to vet candidates for political office and much more.
on June 4,2013 | 10:31AM
SandBar wrote:
Will you please read the article and try to keep up. The issue is not if they deserve to be given tax exempt status, but how the application was handled and how the applicants were treated by the IRS
on June 4,2013 | 11:40AM
Ronin006 wrote:
This truly is rotten, and remember this: a fish rots starting at the head
on June 4,2013 | 10:33AM
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