by Tony Lee 16 Jun 2013
An IRS supervisor who oversaw over 200 agents in the Cincinnati office admitted that she personally reviewed applications from conservative and Tea Party groups for tax-exempt status. Her statements contradict assertions by other IRS officials that "rogue" agents were solely responsible for the targeting.
The Associated Press reports that Holly Paz (pictured), "a top deputy in the division that handles applications for tax-exempt status," told congressional investigators that she personally reviewed "20 to 30 applications."
According to ABC affiliate WCPO, Paz worked at the Cincinnati office as a manager while the "systematic scrutiny of conservative groups" occurred but now serves as "the director of the office rulings and agreements for the IRS in Washington, D.C."
Paz is a registered Democrat who donated $4,000 to the Obama campaign in 2008 and is currently on administrative leave, according to her lawyer.
IRS officials have insisted that "rogue" agents in the Cincinnati office were responsible for the targeting, even though workers in the office like Elizabeth Hofacre have insisted there were so many checks in place that it was virtually impossible for them to "go off the reservation."
Paz seems to have confirmed Hofacre's objections, telling investigators that "Tea Party" applications were forwarded to her from Cincinnati, and she then sent those applications to legal experts in D.C. She also admitted "dozens of tea party applications sat untouched for more than a year while field agents waited for guidance from Washington on how to handle them."
Paz reportedly told investigators last month that she thought "Tea Party" was shorthand for all political groups, since the first case she reviewed in D.C. in 2010 happened to be a Tea Party case. According to USA Today, Paz told investigators that she thought "Tea Party" could refer to a liberal or conservative organization, just like "'Coke' is used as a generic term for soda" and people "refer to tissues as 'Kleenex.'"
Yet Hofacre, the paper notes, "told investigators that she kicked out any progressive groups that other agents tried to put in with the Tea Party cases" and "understood the term to mean conservative or Republican groups."
"I was tasked to do Tea Parties, and I wasn't — I wasn't equipped or set up to do anything else," she reportedly told investigators. USA Today also found that IRS data showed "dozens of liberal groups received tax-exempt approval in the 27 months that Tea Party groups sat in limbo, even though the liberal groups were engaging in similar kids of activity."