It turns out the “rogue agents” at the Internal Revenue Service field office in Cincinnati weren’t quite so rogue after all. Democrats had hoped some low-level minion at the agency would serve as the fall guy in the expanding snooping scandal. On Thursday, the fingers were pointed squarely at high-level offices in the IRS headquarters in Washington.
The IRS agents in the Cincinnati field office who handled the 501(c)3 applications of Tea Party groups were acting under orders from above. One of them, Elizabeth Hofacre, said she took her orders from Carter Hull, a tax law specialist based in Washington.
Mr. Hull in turn says he did the bidding of Lois Lerner, the top-level agent who asserted her Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying about what she did. Mr. Hull explained that conservative groups’ applications were stalled because he had to send them to the chief counsel’s office, where they languished.
President Obama appointed William J. Wilkins as the IRS chief counsel in 2009. He had been a top Democratic Senate committee staffer, so it’s not surprising he took his time “reviewing” the applications from conservatives. None were approved. Applications by about a dozen liberal groups got extra scrutiny but were approved.
This scandal goes far beyond sitting on paperwork. As Ben Wolfgang and Dave Boyer reported in The Washington Times, Christine O’Donnell, the 2010 Republican Senate candidate in Delaware, has identified herself as one of four political figures whose tax files were improperly accessed. This became a big issue during her campaign.