07-18-2013, 12:35 PM
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IRS lawyer testifies that political appointee's office involved in Tea Party screenin
So much for the "This was isolated to a local Cincinnati office" rhetoric. Not that any of us with half a brain believed that in the first place.
This story gets more interesting by the second. More juicy too.
A veteran IRS lawyer testified on Thursday that officials from a Washington office led by a political appointee intervened in the screening of Tea Party applications, saying publicly for the first time the IRS chief counsel's office was involved in the controversial program.
Carter Hull, a recently retired tax law specialist, gave his first-hand account during testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Hull had earlier come under scrutiny after an employee in the Cincinnati IRS office told congressional investigators that he had been micro-managing her review of Tea Party groups' applications for tax-exempt status. But Hull revealed that he, too, was taking orders from up the chain of command.
Hull specifically said he was told to forward documents to an adviser for embattled IRS official Lois Lerner -- who first revealed the targeting of Tea Party groups and has since refused to answer lawmakers' questions. But Hull said he was then told to send documents to the Office of Chief Counsel for their review -- which is led by political appointee William Wilkins.
At an August 2011 meeting, Hull said, someone from the chief counsel's office said additional information was needed from Tea Party applicants that Hull was dealing with, and that a second letter should be sent out requesting more information.
These letters have since been cited by Tea Party groups as part of a drawn-out process that in some cases left them without any resolution for years.
Hull said during his testimony that the multi-level layer of review was "unusual." And he said the Cincinnati office was stuck on applications because he, too, was waiting for guidance from the chief counsel's office.
"I was waiting for word from chief counsel as to how to proceed," Hull said.
Hull repeatedly said that he was not told specifically to hold up applications.
But he confirmed that after meeting with the chief counsel's office, applications were eventually taken out of his control and forwarded on for "further review," which he said was "rare."
The committee on Thursday also heard from Elizabeth Hofacre, a Cincinnati office employee who reviewed dozens of Tea Party applications under Hull's management before she transferred to another office.
Hofacre testified that she was "deeply offended" when senior government officials tried to blame the targeting scandal on a handful of supposedly rogue employees in the Ohio office.
Read more: IRS lawyer testifies that political appointee's office involved in Tea Party screening | Fox News
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