IRS Has Produced Only 10% of Docs Responsive to Demand by Congress

Terence P. Jeffrey | September 23, 2013 | 5:35pm EDT
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President Barack Obama and Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel in the Oval Office on May 17, 2013. (White House photo/Pete Souza)

( - The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee--which is probing the Internal Revenue Service’s discriminatory treatment of Tea Party and conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status--says the IRS has thus far handed over to the committee only about 10 percent of the documents the IRS itself has said are responsive to the committee’s demands for documents.

The committee subpoenaed the Treasury Department for relevant documents from the department and the IRS more than seven weeks ago at the beginning of August.

“To date, the IRS has produced to the committee only about 10 percent of all responsive materials that it has identified,” the committee’s majority staff said in a memo to committee members last Tuesday.

Committee staff confirmed to today that the IRS has not produced a significant number of additional documents since that memo was circulated on Sept. 17, and that as of the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 23, the IRS’s total production of documents to the committee remained only about 10 percent of those the IRS has said are responsive

“In his letter of August 2, 2013, Acting Commissioner Werfel represented to the committee that the IRS has identified 660,000 responsive documents,” said the Oversight Committee majority staff memo. “The committee has received only 63,000 pages.”

It was also on Aug. 2 that the committee issued a subpoena to the Treasury Department demanding certain categories of records from the Treasury and the IRS.

These included all communications that Lois Lerner--who ran the IRS's exempt organizations unit—sent or received between January 1, 2009 and August 2, 2013. Additionally, it included all communications sent or received by IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins between February 1, 2010 and August 2, 2013.

Wilkins had been the only Obama political appointee at the IRS at the time that the IRS targeting of the Tea Party and conservative groups for heightened scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. Some Tea Party cases were referred to Wilkins's office.

The committee’s Aug. 2 subpoena also specifically demanded all communications between the Executive Office of the President at the White House and the IRS chief counsel’s office, or the Department of Treasury, that referred to or related to applications for tax-exempt status.

When the Oversight Committee issued this subpoena, Chairman Darrell Issa sent a cover letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lamenting what Issa described as the IRS’s “ongoing obstruction” of the committee’s investigation.

“I write to notify you that I remain extremely disappointed with the Internal Revenue Service’s lack of full cooperation with the committee’s investigation into the inappropriate treatment of certain applicants for tax-exempt status,” wrote Issa. “This ongoing obstruction leaves me no choice but to issue a subpoena to compel the production of documents relevant to the committee’s investigation.”

As reported by the Washington Times, Lois Lerner--who refused to answer questions on 5th Amendment grounds when she appeared in the Oversight Committee on May 22--retired from the IRS today.

Chairman Issa later issued a statement saying the committee still wants to take her testimony.

“Lois Lerner’s exit from the IRS does not alter the Oversight Committee’s interest in understanding why applicants for tax exempt status were targeted and inappropriately treated because of their political beliefs,” Chairman Issa said in a statement this afternoon. “We still don’t know why Lois Lerner, as a senior IRS official, had such a personal interest in directing scrutiny and why she denied improper conduct to Congress. Her departure does not answer these questions or diminish the Committee’s interest in hearing her testimony.”

In June, the Oversight Committee approved a resolution stating that Lerner had waived her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination when she appeared before the committee because she voluntarily made an opening s statement to the committee before refusing to answer its questions.

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