September 24, 2013

AP Tries to Impress Readers With IRS’s Cooperation, But Docs Provided to Issa’s Committee Are Only 10% of Total Requested

As Brent Bozell at NewsBusters noted earlier today, news of the forced retirement of the IRS’s Lois Lerner, the agency’s chief orchestrator of the campaign which targeted tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny in their applications for not-for-profit status, “was censored by ABC, CBS, and NBC.”

In what may surprise some, that lack of coverage didn’t occur because of the Associated Press. Stephen Ohlemacher’s story was mostly well-done, with two significant exceptions.

The first was his claim that "investigators have released no evidence showing that anyone outside the IRS ordered the targeting or knew it was happening." That's a clever way of avoiding the mention of circumstantial evidence, which at least includes the fact that "(President) Obama 'Met With Anti-Tea Party IRS Union Chief the Day Before Agency Targeted Tea Party,'" that IRS officials associated with its Tax Exempt Office visited the White House quite a few times (the exact number is in dispute, but "quite a few" isn't), and that many of those visits included face time with Obama.

The second relates to this paragraph from the IRS about its level of cooperation, which Ohlemacher relayed uncritically (bolds are mine throuhout this post):

“The IRS is making important progress on fixing the underlying management and organizational deficiencies,” the statement said. “Our goal is to restore the public’s faith and trust in the tax system. We have sent nearly 400,000 pages of documents to Congress and facilitated dozens of employee interviews. We look forward to continuing to cooperate with Congress and other investigations.”

That sounds impressive, but its’ not.


As Terence P. Jeffrey at CNS News reported Monday afternoon, the documents provided thus far represent a tiny percentage of what Congressional investigators have requested:

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

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.”

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.

Perhaps the IRS’s 400,000 figure includes all documents provided to all House committees conducting investigations. But 10 percent responsiveness to Issa’s committee in 7 weeks is pathetic. At this rate, the IRS will take another 63 weeks, or until just before Christmas next year, before it has complied.

Ohlemacher’s failure to get Issa’s committee’s side of the document request compliance situation gives readers the impression that the poor, pitiful IRS is doing all it can to keep the mean bully Republicans happy. That isn’t the case.

Cross-posted at


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