Cincinnati IRS Employee: I Was ‘Essentially a Front Person’ for Washington
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 11:34 PM
By: Paul Scicchitano
Carter Hull, an IRS Attorney in Washington, D.C. closely oversaw the agency’s scrutiny of tea party groups and other conservative organizations in an apparent contradiction of top agency officials, who insisted that low-level employees in Cincinnati were to blame for the now widening scandal.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Elizabeth Hofacre of the Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that she had limited autonomy to act on her own when it came to questioning conservative organizations.
"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 in transcripts of her interview, according to the Journal.
The newspaper also reported that interview transcripts suggest Gary Muthert of the Cincinnati office was among the first IRS employees to begin searching for tea-party groups by name among the groups seeking tax-exempt status in March 2010 at the request of a local manager who told him that “Washington, D.C. wanted some cases.” At first he was told to pull seven applications.
But over the following two months he expanded his search to include groups with “patriot” and “9/12” in their applications for a total of about 40 tea-party cases.
Hofacre told investigators that attorney Hull suggested questions to ask the tea-party groups and that she was also told to forward him their responses as well, something she found “demeaning.”
There was no indication that Obama admininstration officials were involved or asked for groups to be targeted.
"All I remember saying and thinking is, 'This is ridiculous,'" she said, according to the publication. "Because at the same time, you are getting calls from irate taxpayers. And I see their point. Even if a decision isn't favorable, they deserve some kind of treatment and they deserve, you know, timeliness, and . . . these applications and their responses were just being sent up there [to Washington] and I am not sure what was happening."
At another point during the interview with investigators Hofacre complained she was "being micromanaged to death, and it was just really frustrating." She was subsequently granted a transfer in the fall of 2010 that Hofacre described as a promotion.