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Investigator: IRS screened few progressive groups

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 27, 2013 at 3:22 pm •  Published: June 27, 2013

Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., Ways and Means chairman, said that "no taxpayer, regardless of political affiliation, should be unfairly targeted." But he said that indications are that conservatives had been treated worse.

"So far, the evidence only shows conservatives being systematically targeted by the IRS, not just flagged" on agency lists, Camp said.

Some progressive groups seeking tax-exempt status have complained about facing lengthy delays and detailed questions from the IRS.

But it has not yet been clearly shown that as many faced the same extent of mistreatment as conservative organizations. Dozens of conservative groups experienced delays of a year or more, and many received scores of detailed questions that officials have since said were overly intrusive, including demands for information about their donors.

In his letter, George said his investigators have "multiple sources of information corroborating" that tea party groups' applications were set aside for close examinations, including interviews with IRS employees, emails and other documents.

But George added, "We found no indication in any of these other materials that 'progressives' was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention."

IRS regulations allow tax-exempt social welfare organizations to engage in some political activity but it cannot be their primary mission.

The back-and-forth over George's investigation overshadowed an appearance before Ways and Means on Thursday by Danny Werfel, who President Barack Obama appointed to head the IRS last month.

Werfel has repeatedly criticized those actions, replaced several top officials who he said bore some responsibility and has erected new procedures aimed at speeding work on tax-exempt applications and learning more about what happened.

Werfel has said he found mismanagement but no purposeful wrongdoing at the IRS. Camp said Thursday that Werfel's conclusion was "incomplete" because Werfel did not interview several former top IRS officials, including former commissioner Douglas Shulman.

Werfel also came under Republican fire for his agency's request for a $1 billion budget increase next year, about 10 percent, with several lawmakers recounting revelations about costly agency conventions and videos some workers made.

"Until the IRS proves that it can responsibly manage its current funds, the IRS will not see one more dime in taxpayer funding," Camp said.

Werfel said no decisions had yet been made on the agency's previous plans to distribute $70 million in bonuses to employees, payments that have been required by union contracts. He said bargaining was underway.