IRS Scandal Polling: More Americans Suspect White House Involvement

Was the White House directly involved in the IRS scandal, i.e., the improper targeting of Tea Party and other politically conservative groups when they applied for nonprofit status?

Nearly 50 percent (up from 37 percent in May) of Americans now believe the IRS scandal leads to the White House according to a new CNN poll.

No such scrutiny was applied to left-of-center groups when they sought similar tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Even though the controversy has been crowded out of media coverage by the NSA electronic surveillance scandal, a majority of Americans also think that the wrongful IRS Tea Party scrutiny is an important issue for the nation. According to CNN Polling Director Keating Holland, as expected Democrats and Republicans feel differently about this scandal, “But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold.”

The claim that the improper targeting was the work of a few “rogue” employees in the Cincinnati office has also been debunked. “An Internal Revenue Service supervisor in Washington says she was personally involved in scrutinizing some of the earliest applications from tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status, including some requests that languished for more than a year without action. Holly Paz, who until recently was a top deputy in the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, told congressional investigators she reviewed 20 to 30 applications. Her assertion contradicts initial claims by the agency that a small group of agents working in an office in Cincinnati were solely responsible for mishandling the applications.”

Paz has apparently been “replaced” according to the IRS. She also apparently was in the room when the Treasury Department Inspector General interviewed IRS employees about improper Tea Party scrutiny. “Lawmakers have also raised eyebrows at the fact that Paz was present when members of the inspector general’s team interviewed her subordinates during the course of their investigation.”

Some observers have raised the implication of a kind of voter suppression in the IRS misconduct scandal: “In the end, the IRS managed to put its thumb on the political scale by squelching political activity on the right — some groups report curtailing get-out-the-vote efforts, spending piles of money on legal fees or disbanding altogether in the face of IRS inquisitions. And all of it happened during a close and hotly contested presidential election where such mischievousness could make a real difference.”

As the investigations move forward, do you think it will eventually turn out that there are White House fingerprints on the inappropriate Tea Party targeting procedure by IRS officials?

[Top image via Andrew F. Kazmierski /]

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