Thursday on Capitol Hill, employees of the IRS tax exempt section and Treasury Inspector General Russell George will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The hearing will specifically focus on the IRS' systematic delay and scrutiny of Tea Party applications.
The chief counsel’s office for the Internal Revenue Service, headed by a political appointee of President Obama, helped develop the agency’s problematic guidelines for reviewing “tea party” cases, according to a top IRS attorney. In interviews with congressional investigators, IRS lawyer Carter Hull said his superiors told him that the chief counsel’s office, led by William Wilkins, would need to review some of the first applications the agency screened for additional scrutiny because of potential political activity. Previous accounts from IRS employees had shown that Washington IRS officials were involved in the controversy, but Hull’s comments represent the closest connection to the White House to date. According to a partial transcript released by House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and House Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the chief counsel’s office also discussed using a template letter to ask questions about the groups’ activities, despite Hull’s warning that such a boilerplate approach would be impractical.At this point in the investigation into IRS improper targeting of conservative groups, we're far from the original argument made by IRS officials that this whole thing was done by a few "low-level" employees in the Cincinnati office.