The IRS targeted groups on the left as well the right that were seeking tax-exempt status, a top official said Monday.
Internal Revenue Service Principal Deputy Commissioner Daniel Werfel said IRS officials targeted both conservative and progressive groups applying for tax-exempt status based on key terms in their profiles. The Associated Press reports that newly leaked internal documents show that IRS employees singled out applicants using terms like “Israel,” “progressive” and “occupy,” not just "tea party," "patriot" and "Constitution," as already reported. The discovery of these “Be On the Lookout” (or BOLO) lists have already lead to the dismissal of five IRS managers.
Werfel would not elaborate on any further terms included on the screening lists, but told the Associated Press that all lists of that nature had been suspended after their discovery.
"There was a wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum" on the lists, Werfel told the AP. Werfel added that "inappropriate criteria" were used.
As an 83-page report from Werfel shows, these managers did not take proper action in stopping the inappropriate screening, either by negligence or by turning a blind eye to the lists. The White House ordered Werfel’s report on May 22 after it was found that conservative groups were unfairly targeted by the IRS when seeking tax-exempt status.
"Several key leaders, including some in the commissioner's office, failed in multiple capacities to meet their managerial responsibilities at various points during the course of these events," the report said, according to CNN. "Most notably, there was insufficient action by these leaders to identify, prevent, address and disclose the problematic situation that materialized with the review of applications for tax-exempt status."
Werfel, who started his job at the IRS just in May, has created an Accountability Review Board designed to recommend any additional steps to hold those who created the lists responsible for their actions. A House Ways and Means Committee hearing is also scheduled for Thursday to discuss the report and Werfel’s findings.
Later Monday, the White House released an official press release acknowledging that President Barack Obama had been briefed on the report. The press release states that the president “will not tolerate inappropriate behavior in any agency and ... believes that IRS personnel must operate with absolute integrity, fairness and neutrality.”
“The president believes Principal Deputy Commissioner Werfel’s report is an important step in ensuring accountability for any staff that acted inappropriately, identifies the failures in their systems that allowed the misconduct to happen, and takes a forward-looking systemic view at the agency’s management,” the press release continued. “The administration is committed to making sure the IRS continues to reform itself with the goals of providing the highest quality service and reflecting the principles of fairness and neutrality.”
Last week, the International Business Times reported that a group of conservative employees at Cincinnati’s Internal Revenue Service had conducted similar screening policies to ensure that Democratic-leaning employees were passed over for promotions within the agency.