This interview transcript provides a detailed first-hand account of how these practices first originated, and it debunks conspiracy theories about how the IRS first started reviewing these cases. Answering questions from Committee staff for more than five hours, this official — who identified himself as a “conservative Republican” — denied that he or anyone on his team was directed by the White House to take these actions or that they were politically motivated. Instead, the Screening Group Manager explained that the very first case at issue in this investigation was initially flagged by one of his own screeners in February 2010. […]
To be clear, I am not suggesting that IRS employees in Washington, D.C. played no role in these activities. For example, the Inspector General has already reported that Lois Lerner, the Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS, became aware of the use of inappropriate criteria in 2011. The Inspector General also identified a document called a “Be on The Lookout,” or BOLO, that directed IRS employees in Cincinnati to send these applications to a specific group within the Cincinnati office that was coordinating with IRS employees in the Exempt Organizations Technical Unit in Washington, D.C. According to the Inspector General, after Ms. Lerner learned of the terms used by the screeners, she immediately ordered a halt to the use of these terms, resulting in a change to the BOLO in July 2011 to apply to all organizations “involved with political, lobbying, or advocacy for exemption under 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4).”
These facts are a far cry from accusations of a conspiracy orchestrated by the White House to target the President’s political enemies. At this point in the investigation, not one witness who has appeared before the Committee has identified any involvement by any White House officials in the identification or screening of Tea Party applicants for tax exempt status, and the Committee has obtained no documents indicating any such involvement.