Yesterday, I linked to this transcript of an interview conducted with John Shafer, an IRS screening manager in the Cincinnati office of the IRS. A cursory read of the transcript raises several issues that still need to be addressed.
1. John Shafer, the interviewee in the transcript, has identified himself as a "conservative Republican." Undoubtedly, we live in an age where one's self-description is to be honored above all else, but has anyone actually found any hard proof -- donations, letters to the editor, anything -- that demonstrate some stated sympathy toward a conservative candidate or any part of a conservative agenda, or is it just his word? Because, after all, I can call myself a "liberal Democrat" . . . but that doesn't make it so. Shafer's responses throughout the interview -- which are far from forthright, in many instances, and where he seems most eager to promote the most innocuous version of events -- shows that he is an organization man to the end. Wouldn't a conservative have had some degree of sensitivity to what was going on, even for perception's sake?
2. Page 112 of the transcript discusses the origination of the BOLO. Shafer says he doesn't know who developed the BOLO, but wouldn't a network administrator be able to tell when a spreadsheet was created and by whom, along with the history of edits? And if so, shouldn't the congressional committees make sure they obtain such a spreadsheet and any relevant accompanying netowrk information?
3. What, exactly, is "Group 7822"? It first appears at the bottom of page 104, as the place that the segregated "Tea Party" cases were sent. News stories like this one define "Group 7822" as a "special track" -- but what does that even mean? The IRS.gov site is no help. Does anyone know what this group is, who is part of it or what it does?
4. A news story from today shows that former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman's top political aide made even more visits to The White House than his boss did, and worked closely, hand-in-hand with White House aides. This was not a person with a great depth of tax expertise; this was Shulman's chief of staff. What was being discussed?
Such extensive contacts with The White House could not have gone unnoticed by the Treasury Department's IG. It suggests a degree of coordination -- or at the least, harmony -- between the White House and top figures at the IRS that it may explain why the IG never chose to transform his "audit" of the political targeting into a real "investigation" -- which would have allowed him to put people under oath and get the answers to questions about who ordered the targeting in the first place. Of course, that would likewise have put him in the cross-hairs of the White House, which hasn't treated independent Inspectors General very kindly.
Many thanks to correspondent Joe Brandimore for his contribution and insights.