Tuesday, May 21, 2013

IRS Scandal, Who Knew What When, timeline

3/18/2008
The American Future Fund (AFF) applies for tax exemption as a 501(c)(4) social-welfare organization.

6/19/2008
AFF responds to Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed in March by the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party alleging that the American Future Fund had violated campaign-finance law by engaging in political advocacy without registering as a political-action committee.

2/2/2009
FEC attorney requests information about American Future Fund’s (AFF) tax-exempt status from Lerner.

2/3/2009
FEC general counsel’s office writes Lois Lerner, Director of IRS Exempt Organizations Division: “Several months ago . . . I spoke with you about the American Future Fund, a 501(c)(4) organization that had submitted an exemption application the IRS [sic]...  When we spoke last July, you had told us that the American Future Fund had not received an exemption letter from the IRS... Could you please tell me whether the IRS has since issued an exemption letter to the American Future Fund? Also if the IRS has granted American Future Fund’s exemption, would it be possible for you to send me the publicly available information and documents related to American Future Fund?”

Lerner's email response: “I have sent your email out to some of my staff. Will get back to you as soon as I have heard from them.”

3/26/2009
Washington Post’s David Ignatius publishes a column questioning the tax-exempt status of Pro-Israel Green Line groups.

3/27/2009
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) announces it will begin a campaign of filing legal complaints with the IRS and the Treasury Department to investigate groups “allegedly raising funds for the development of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.”

9/15/2009
IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman's first of 157 visits to the White House. (Previous IRS commissioner visited WH once in five years.)

10/2009
The ADC announces that it has expanded its legal campaign against pro-Israel charities and was “working with a number of coalition partners, both nationally and internationally, in conducting this ongoing campaign.”
Chief negotiator for Palestinian Authority raises Israel charity issue two days later during a meeting with US Consul General Daniel Rubenstein, according to a State Dept. cable revealed by Wikileaks.
“[Palestinian negotiator Ahmad Quraya] gives the Consul General a copy of an article by Uri Blau and Nir Hasson, published in Israeli daily Haaretz newspaper on August 17, entitled ‘American Non-profit Organization Raises Funds for Settlement,’ and asked the USG to review the situation with an eye toward eliminating organizations’ tax exempt status if they are funding settlement activity,” said the cable.

2/25/2010
Email from Cincinnati-based IRS agent Jack Koester to his boss, Screening Group Manager John Shafer. Shafer, in turn, sends it to his superiors, including some Washington staff, elevating it as a "high profile case."
John
Here is the case number for the "Tea Party" application for 501(c)(4) exemption that we discussed this morning. Recent media attention to this type of organization indicates to me that this is a "high profile" case.
The Cincinnati employees weren't quite sure what the Tea Party was, but they knew it was politically sensitive. "This case will be sent to inventory for further development."
2/25/2010
Email from Sharon Camarillo to Cindy Thomas:
Cindy: Please let 'Washington' know about this potentially politically embarassing case involving a 'Tea Party" organization.

2/25/2010
Email from Cindy Thomas to Holly Paz:
We're wondering whether EO Technical wants this case because of recent media attention. More
specifics about activities is in the original e-mail below. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks

2/26/2010
Cindy Thomas email to John Shafer:
EO Technical would like the case. Please thank Jack for identifying the issue and elevating it. Thanks.

3/2010
Gary Muthert's, an IRS agent in Cincinnati, local supervisor tells him in to check the applications for tax-exempt status to see how many were from groups with “tea party” in their names, both pending and closed. This local supervisor: “Washington, D.C., wants seven” cases.

3/9/2010
Christine O'Donnell announces that she is running for Senate from state of Connecticut.

3/9/2010
Christine O'Donnell's tax records are illegally accessed.

3/9/2010
News report: a tax lien is placed on a house purported to be Christine O'Donnell's.
The problem was she no longer owned the house.

3/17/2010
Cindy Thomas email to John Shafer:
John,
Per Holly's e-mail directly below, EOT does not want all of the tea party cases. They only want 2 of them and want us to hold the remainder. We can discuss who should hold them if you would like. Let me know. Thanks.

3/20/2010
Delaware state officials illegally access Christine O'Donnell's.
[Later claim this is the first and last time the illegal access occurred. 
Investigators claim access occurred 3/9/2010.]

3/2010
The IRS blames the false O'Donnell lien on a computer glitch and withdraws it.

[[In the midst of the 2010 campaign, long before it was revealed that her tax information had been accessed, Ms. O'Donnell’s financial life was a subject of intense media scrutiny and was used repeatedly by her enemies that included, among other things, falling behind on her mortgage.]]

3/22/2010
Michelle Eldridge, IRS national media relations chief, visits White House to meet with VP staff.

3/27/2010
Washington Post:  In the faces of Tea Party shouters, images of hate and history

3/30/2010
Washington Post:  "The vitriolic, anti-government hate speech that is spewed on talk radio every day -- and, quite regularly, at Tea Party rallies -- is calibrated not to inform but to incite."

4/2010
Team of IRS specialists assembled to process the tax-exempt nonprofit status of conservative groups that might be potential political operations.

4/2010
Elizabeth Hofacre's Cincinnati IRS office put in charge of handling tax-exempt status applications from conservative groups by her Cincinnati supervisor. She seeks help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she starts getting the tea-party cases.
Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, begins to oversee and guide Hofacre's work and provides some of the questions asked applicants.
[After he received responses, he felt he knew enough to determine whether the applications should be approved or denied.   But his recommendations were not carried out.]

4/5/2010
Washington-based IRS acting manager of Exempt Organizations Technical Stephen Grodnitzky email asks for more Tea Party applications from the Cincinnati office: “Really thinking about possible media attention on a particular case.” 
Grodnitzky orders the Washington IRS office draft a “sensitive case report” on Tea Party applications that have the potential for “media attention.”

5/5/2010
Washington Post:  Tea party groups battling perceptions of racism

5/2010
Cincinnati IRS employee Muthert “batched up” seven of the cases for “EO Technical,” a unit of the Exempt Organizations Division in Washington, headed by Ms. Lerner.
Another local official asks Muthert to locate more applications to send to Washington. Muthert locates about 40 tea-party cases after expanding his search to include the terms “patriot” and “9/12.”

7/2010
Elizabeth Hofacre, an IRS official in Cincinnati who is coordinating "emerging issues" for the agency's tax-exempt unit, is corresponding with Washington-based IRS tax attorney Carter Hull.

7/5/2010
New York Times published its 5,000-word cover story on the groups, following up with a Room for Debate series two days later. The article quoted an unnamed senior State Department administration official calling such groups “a problem” and “unhelpful to the efforts that we’re trying to make.”
The story also quoted a senior Obama Middle East adviser, Daniel Kurtzer, saying the groups “drove us crazy.”

7/6/2010
Steven Grodnitzky, a top lawyer in the Exempt Organization Technical unit (EOT) in Washington, DC, responds to Holly Paz email:
EOT is working the Tea party applications in coordination with Cincy. We are developing a few applications here in DC and providing copies of our development letters with the agent to use as examples in the development of their cases. Chip Hull [another lawyer in IRS headquarters] is working these cases in EOT and working with the agent in Cincy, so any communication should include him as well. Because the Tea party applications are the subject of an SCR [Sensitive Case Report], we cannot resolve any of the cases without coordinating with Rob.
The reference to Rob is believed to be Rob Choi, then-Director of Rulings and Agreements in IRS’s Washington, DC, headquarters.

7/19/2010
Pro-Israel group Z Street’s application for tax-exempt status first runs into trouble with the IRS, two weeks after the lengthy New York Times article was published.

8/9/2010
In Texas, President Obama for the first time publicly names the group Americans for Prosperity (founded by the Koch Brothers) and warns about conservative groups. He says: "Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads . . . And they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it's a foreign-controlled corporation."

8/11/2010
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sends out a fundraising email warning about "Karl Rove-inspired shadow groups."

8/2010
IRS circulates the first BOLO (Be On Look Out) to tax exempt screener and evaluator unit.
IRS flagging applications with words “Tea Party”, “Patriots”, and “9/12” in organization names and applications that contain issues of government spending, government debt or taxes; education of the public by advocacy/lobbying to “make America a better place to live;” or statements in the case file that criticized how the country is being run.

8/21/2010
President Obama devotes his weekly radio address to the threat of "attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don't know who's behind these ads and we don't know who's paying for them. . . . You don't know if it's a foreign-controlled corporation. . . . The only people who don't want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide."

8/23/2010
The New Yorker's Jane Mayer authors a hit piece on the Koch brothers, entitled "Covert Operations," in which she accuses them of funding "political front groups." The piece repeats the White House theme, with Ms. Mayer claiming the Kochs have created "slippery organizations with generic-sounding names" that have "made it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington."

8/27/2010
White House economist Austan Goolsbee, in a background briefing with reporters, declares that Koch Industries does "not pay corporate income tax."

This same week, the Democratic Party files a complaint with the IRS claiming the Americans for Prosperity Foundation is violating its tax-exempt status.

9/2/2010
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warns on its website that the Kochs have "funneled their money into right-wing shadow groups."

9/16/2010
President Obama, in Connecticut, repeats that a "foreign-controlled entity" might be funding "millions of dollars of attack ads."

9/20/2010
President Obama, in Philadelphia, says the problem is that "nobody knows" who is behind conservative groups.

9/21/2010
Sam Stein, in his Huffington Post article "Obama, Dems Try to Make Shadowy Conservative Groups a Problem for Conservatives," writes that a "senior administration official" had "urged a small gathering of reporters to start writing on what he deemed 'the most insidious power grab that we have seen in a very long time.' "

9/22/2010
In New York City, Mr. Obama warns that conservative groups "pose as non-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups," even though they are "guided by seasoned Republican political operatives" who might be funded by a "foreign-controlled corporation."

9/26/2010
On ABC's "This Week," Obama senior adviser David Axelrod declares outright that the "benign-sounding Americans for Prosperity, the American Crossroads Fund" are "front groups for foreign-controlled companies."

9/28/2010
The president, in Wisconsin, warns about conservative organizations "posing as nonprofit groups."

Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, writes to the IRS demanding it investigate nonprofits. The letter names conservative organizations.

10/2010
Elizabeth Hofacre of Cincinnati office says she became so frustrated with the delays that she applied for a different job within the agency and is transferred.

IRS sends a database on 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups containing confidential taxpayer information to FBI, 1.1 million pages of nonprofit tax-return data.
The information is transmitted in advance of Lois Lerner’s meeting the same month with Justice Department officials about the possibility of using campaign-finance laws to prosecute certain nonprofit groups.
In e-mails between Lerner and Richard Pilger, director of the Justice Department’s election-crimes branch Lerner asks about the format in which the FBI preferred the data to be sent.

10/8/2010
DOJ representatives host a meeting with IRS officials "concerning 501(c)(4) issues."

10/11/2010
Democrat Senator Dick Durbin letter to IRS demanding they investigate Conservative 501(c)(4)'s.

10/12/2010
Sen. Durbin sends letter to IRS urging they investigate American Crossroads.

10/14/2010
President Obama calls Conservative 501c4 groups "a problem for democracy."

10/19/2010
Lois Lerner, Director of IRS Exempt Organizations Division, speaks at Duke University's School of Public Policy about the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision:  "Everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it.  [The] Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it; they want the IRS to fix the problem... So everybody is screaming at us right now, ‘Fix it now before the election. Can’t you see how much these people are spending?’"

10/22/2010
President Obama slams those who "hide behind these front groups."

10/25/2010
President Obama calls Conservative 501c4 groups to a "threat to our democracy."

10/26/2010
President Obama decries Conservative groups engaged in "unsupervised spending."

11/2010
A version of the target list instructs IRS agents to treat “progressive” groups differently from “tea party” groups. Screeners are alerted that a designation of 501(c)(3) status “may not be appropriate” for applications containing the word ”progressive” but they are instructed to send those of tea-party groups off ”to Group 7822″ for further scrutiny.
Applications of progressive groups can be approved on the spot by line agents, while those of tea-party groups can not. Furthermore, the list notes that tea-party cases are “currently being coordinated with EOT,” which stands for Exempt Organizations Technical, a group of tax lawyers in Washington, D.C. Those of progressive groups are not.

Winter 2011
Carter Hull is told by Ms. Lerner's senior adviser, IRS chief counsel William Wilkins, that the targeted TEA Party applications would require further review. 
[***IRS chief counsel Wilkins is one of only two Obama political appointees in the IRS.***]

2/1/2011
Lerner email to Michael Seto and Holly Paz:  "Tea Party Matter very dangerous...  Counsel and Judy Kindell need to be in on this one...  Cincy should probably NOT have these cases -- Holly please see what exactly they have please.  [heavily redacted]"

2/2/2011
Holly Paz email to Lerner and Seto:  "Tea Party - Cases in Determs are being supervised by Chip Hull at each step - he reviews info from TPs, corresponden to TPs, etc.  No decisions are going out of Cincy until we go all the way through the process with the c3 and c4 cases here.  I believe the [redacted] will be ready to go over to Judy soon.  [heavy redactions]"

Lois Lerner email to Paz and Seto:  "Thanks--even if we go with a 4 on the Tea Party cases, they may want to argue they should be 3s, so it would be great if we can get there without saying the only reason they don't get a 3 is political activity."

3/11/2011
Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in the course of executing a search warrant at a California health care provider’s corporate headquarters, improperly seize personal medical records of millions of citizens.

6/2/2011
"What criteria are being used to label a case a 'Tea Party case'?" writes Holly Paz, director of Rulings and Agreements, in an Email. "We want to think about whether those criteria are resulting in over-inclusion. Lois wants a briefing on these cases."

6/3/2011
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Camp sends letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman inquiring about IRS targeting of taxpayers who donated money to conservative groups, as well as information regarding audits of 501(c)(4) organizations.

6/13/2011
Louis Lerner's computer crashes.
Exempt Organizations division emails IRS staffers to notify them that Lerner's laptop hard drive has crashed.

6/29/2011
Lois Lerner, Director of IRS Exempt Organizations Division, claims to have first learned of the IRS targeting lists.

7/1/2011
IRS responds to Chairman Camp’s June 3 letter by offering assurances “the IRS’s actions in this area were in no way influenced by political considerations.”

7/5/2011
IRS changes criteria used to identify tax-exempt applications for review, cutting out specific references to conservative groups and returning the operation to its proper nonpartisan bent.
A conference call is held with the Technical Unit; the Director, EO; and the Determinations Unit Program Manager. They develop new criteria for identifying cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager makes changes to the BOLO listing.

7/19/2011
Lerner emailing IT staffers for help in retrieving "lost personal files.  These were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable..."

7/20/2011
Lerner email exchange with Lillie Wilburn, field director for the IRS headquarters’ Customer Support Service Center:
“I checked with the technician, and he still has your drive. He wanted to exhaust all avenues to recover the data before sending it to the ‘hard drive cemetery.’ 
Unfortunately, after receiving assistance from several highly skilled technicians including HP experts, he still cannot recover the data.”

8/3?/2011
Wilburn emails Lerner to say that the crashed hard drive was sent to a forensic lab. 

8/6?/2011
Wilburn email to Lerner:  “The sectors on your hard drive were bad which made your data unrecoverable.”
Lerner response to Wilburn:  "Sometimes stuff just happens."

8/10/2011
In an email, Treasury Special Agent Daniel K. Carney says "the final report relative to the investigation of Austan Goolsbee's [accessing Koch Industries' tax data] is completed, has gone through all the approval processes."
[Neither the report itself nor a summary of its findings have been made public.]

8/31/2011
Email storage contractor Sonasoft’s fiscal year 2011 contract with the IRS ends.  They have been email archiving for the IRS since 2005.

9/8/2011
IRS officially closes out its email storage account with Sonasoft.

10/6/2011
Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Boustany sends letter to Commissioner Shulman requesting information regarding the tax-exempt sector.

11/16/2011
Internal IRS document lists 162 groups, with comments by IRS lawyers in Washington, raising issues about their activities - more than 80% are conservative.
Five groups are flagged as having "anti-Obama rhetoric" in their applications or on their websites.
Other groups are flagged for Tea Party "propaganda."
IRS lawyers in Washington send this list of cases to front-line agents in Cincinnati, along with comments and guidance on how to handle these organizations.

11/18/2011
IRS responds to Chairman Boustany with some requested information but includes no mention of targeting conservative groups.

12/2011
IRS official and frequent White House visitor Nikole Flax's computer crashes.

12/31/2011
IRS Obamacare Official Sarah Hall Ingram logs 62 White House meetings for the year 2011.

1/2012
IRS targeting criteria changes to “Political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement” based on IRS staff concerns that July 2011 criteria were too generic.

1/2012
"[Former CT Senate Candidate] Ms. O'Donnell, this is Dennis Martel, special agent with the U.S. Department of Treasury in Baltimore, Md. … We received information that your personal federal tax info may have been compromised and may have been misused by an individual...”
Mr. Martel, a criminal investigator for the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, is telling her that an official in Delaware state government had improperly accessed her records on 3/9/2010.

1/23/2012
Shulman meets personally with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Controller  DannyWerfel in Room 234 of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

1/25/2012
The criteria used by the IRS to identify tax-exempt applications for review is  once again revised, according to the Inspector General report, in order to resume targeting small-government groups.

2/2012
A letter signed by Democrat Senators Schumer, Bennet, Whitehouse, Merkley, Udall, Shaheen and Franken addressed to Commissioner Shulman urges the IRS to better enforce rules pertaining to 501(c)4 organizations.

2/8/2012
IRS demands extensive information from True the Vote - including volunteer lists.

2/24/2012
During briefing on onerous follow-up letters received by some conservative organizations, Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff ask Director Lerner whether criteria for evaluating tax-exempt applications changed at any point. Lerner responds that criteria has not changed.

2/29/2012
IRS issues a 60-day extension to all groups who have received the onerous follow-up letters and Director Lerner orders that no further developmental letters are to be sent.

3/1/2012
Chairman Boustany sends a follow-up letter to Commissioner Shulman with additional questions about reports that “the IRS has been questioning new tax-exempt applicants, including grassroots political entities such as Tea Party groups.”

3/7/2012
New York Times article: Scrutiny of Political Nonprofits Sets Off Claim of Harassment

3/12/2012
IRS responds to recent Congressional letters with no mention of knowledge of targeting conservative groups.

3/12/2012
A second follow-up letter is sent to IRS Commissioner Shulman from Democrat Senators Schumer, Bennet, Whitehouse, Merkley, Udall, Shaheen and Franken.  The letter, citing New York Times March 7 article, demands that the IRS redouble its efforts scrutinizing 501(c)4 organizations and propose that the IRS make implement three administrative changes to this end.

3/22/2012
Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee holds its 2012 hearing on the tax return filing season and general IRS operations. Chairman Boustany asks IRS Commissioner Shulman about reports that the IRS has been targeting Tea Party groups. Shulman responds, “I can give you assurances…There is absolutely no targeting.”

3/23/2012
IRS sends a supplementary response to Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee containing additional information, but makes no mention of knowledge of targeting conservative organizations.

3/27/2012
Following a number of news stories and additional complaints from many groups, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Issa and Subcommittee Chairman Jordan send Director Lerner a letter asking for information related to reports that conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status were receiving extra scrutiny from IRS.

3/28/2012
32 House Democrats send letter to IRS Commissioner urging him to investigate 501(c)(4)'s.

3/30/2012
Gay rights group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) boasts on its website that it has obtained IRS financial documents revealing that Mitt Romney “donated $10,000 to the National Organization for Marriage [NOM] in 2008 …”

4/4/2012
During telephone briefing, Director Lerner tells Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff that the information IRS was requesting in the additional follow-up letters to groups applying for tax-exempt status was not out of the ordinary.

4/4/2012
Lerner email to IRS supervisor Joseph Grant:
"We just go[t] an very extensive information request from Imraan [Khakoo, an IRS official] –sure looks like op review material. I’m especially concerned that information about pipeline is being asked about... this is NOT a good time to be asking them for anything or to be talking to them about issue in their work. Everyone is stressed to the max and at their wits end, so can we put this off please?"
Grants reply: 
"It is a visit, not an OP review... I am also interested in the questions Imraan sent to them. Some answers should be readily at hand. Others certainly won’t be... The questions just serve as a framework for a broader conversation about how things are going and what is on our respective minds."
Lerner:
"I get that–but timing would be bad if we have to go to Cincy now. So, I will assume we can go over this here as I get the information I’ve already asked for? Thanks."

4/23/2012
IRS chief counsel William Wilkins meets with Obama in the Roosevelt Room of the White House.
Meeting is attended by 13 people.

4/24/2012
IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jeffrey Zients, Shulman’s political aide Jonathan Davis and spokesman Frank Keith meet with President  Obama at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House.

4/25/2012
IRS’s chief counsel’s office — led by William Wilkins sends Carter Hull and fellow Washington-based IRS officials including Lois Lerner “additional comments on the draft guidance” for approving or denying tea party tax-exempt applications.

4/26/2012
IRS sends a second supplementary response to the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee but includes no information about its discriminatory practices.

4/26/2012
Director Lerner writes in response to the March 27th letter from Chairmen Issa and Jordan that the letters to targeted organizations were “in the ordinary course of the application process to obtain the information as the IRS deems necessary to make a determination whether the organization meets the legal requirements for tax-exempt status.”

5/3/2012
Chairman Camp sends letter to Commissioner Shulman seeking all 501(c)(4) applications from 2010 and 2011 in order to conduct an investigation into whether the IRS targeted conservative groups.

5/3/2012
IRS completes internal investigation on illegal targeting of conservatives - finds significant problems in the review process with a substantial bias against conservative groups.

Internal Revenue Service Deputy Commissioner Steven Miller learns of the findings from IRS’s internal review.

Former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman learns of the findings from IRS’s internal review.

5/2012
Treasury Department launches Inspector General for Tax Administration investigation

5/4/2012
Director Lerner responds a second time to Chairmen Issa and Jordan’s March 27th letter. The Chairmen had requested the authority, rationale, and precedent for 16 pieces of information that IRS asked of conservative groups that seemed to be beyond the scope of typical IRS inquiries. Lerner provides justifications for all of the 16 areas, including asking groups applying for tax-exempt status for complete lists of donors with corresponding donation amounts.

5/30/2012
Meeting at the U.S. Capitol between the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and the Conference of National Black Churches. The meeting is attended by Attorney General Eric Holder, IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, and IRS official Peter Lorenzetti, all of whom speak at the event. The meeting coaches black ministers in how to engage in political activity without violating the law.

6/4/2012
Steven Miller takes 16 pages to explain to Senator Levin what IRS regulations and policies may and may not be used to evaluate political groups and assures him that the agency has considerable leeway in picking and choosing which groups would be subject to additional scrutiny:
There is no standard questionnaire used to obtain information about political activities. Although there is a template development letter that describes the general information on the case development process, the letter does not specify the information to be requested from any particular organization … Consequently, revenue agents prepare individualized questions and requests for documents relevant to the application. . .

6/7/2012
IRS official David Fish email to Holly Paz:
"Joseph Urban [IRS Technical Advisor] had actually started a secret research project on whether we could, consistent with 6104, argue that [redacted]."

6/25/2012
Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee holds hearing on charitable organizations. In response to questions regarding reported IRS harassment of conservative groups, Deputy Commissioner Miller tells the Subcommittee, “I am aware that some 200 501(c)(4) applications fell into this category [the determinations letter process]. We did group those organizations together to ensure consistency, to ensure quality.” Miller makes no reference to the IRS’s discriminatory practices.

7/10/2012
Sharon Light email to Lerner and Paz:  "In Senate races, Democrats are fighting to preserve their thin majority.  Their party campaign committee wants the Federal Election Commission to crack down on some of the Republicans' wealthiest allies..."

Lerner emails Light:  "Perhaps the FEC will save the day..."

7/20/2012
Top Internal Revenue Service Obamacare official Sarah Hall Ingram discusses in emails confidential taxpayer information with senior Obama White House officials and Lois Lerner.
Ingram is attempting to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate.
These email exchanges involving Ingram, White House officials and Lerner include White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew.

7/30/2012
Senator Levin sends letter to IRS singling out 12 groups he wants investigated for "political activity."

8/31/2012
Rep. Cummings letter to IRS requests True the Vote documents.

9/27/2012
Senator Levin asks for copies of the answers to IRS exemption application question 15 – a question about planned political expenditures – from four specific groups: Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, Priorities USA, Americans for Prosperity, and Patriot Majority USA.

10/4/2012
Rep. Cummings sends letter to True the Vote demanding identical information requested by the IRS on 2/8/12.
"I request that you provide the following information and documents:

1. a list of all individual voter registration challenges by state, county, and precinct submitted to governmental election entities, including correspondence and determinations by election officials relating to each challenge;

2. copies of all letters sent to states, counties, or other entities alleging non-compliance with the National Voter Registration Act for failing to conduct voter registration list maintenance prior to the November elections;

3. a list of voter registration rolls by state, county, and precinct that True the Vote is currently reviewing for potential challenges;

4. copies of all training materials used for volunteers, affiliates, or other entities;

5. copies of computer programs, research software, and databases used by True the Vote to review voter registration;

6. all contracts, agreements, and memoranda of understanding between True the Vote and affiliates or other entities relating to the terms of use of True the Vote research software and databases;

7. a list all organizations and volunteer groups that currently have access to True the Vote computer programs, research software, and databases; and 8. a list of vendors of voter information, voter registration lists, and other databases used by True the Vote, its volunteers, and its affiliates.

"Please provide these documents by October 14, 2012. Thank you for your attention to this matter."


10/9/2012
IRS demands additional information from Tue the Vote.

10/17/2012
SEIU letter to Shulman and Lerner urging IRS to deny True the Vote 501(c)(4) status.

10/17/2012
Steven Miller informs Senator Levin:
“As discussed in our previous responses dated June 4, 2012, and August 24, 2012, the IRS cannot legally disclose whether the organizations on your list have applied for tax exemptions unless and until such application is approved.”
Miller, however, then informs Levin that Americans for Prosperity and Patriot Majority have been approved, but the IRS has no records for Crossroads and Priorities USA.

10/18/2012
Politico reports Rep. Cummings has sent two letters to True the Vote demanding documents.

10/23/2012
Senator Levin writes to again express his dissatisfaction with the IRS handling of “social welfare” (501(c)(4) organizations insisting that IRS guidance “misinterprets the law” by allowing any political activity. He again demands an answer as to whether the four organizations he listed in his previous letter were primarily engaged in the promotion of social welfare.  He also seeks copies of tax exempt revocation letters sent due to c4 political activities, as well as statistics on how many c4s have been notified that they may be in violation due to political activities.

11/9/2012
Lerner email to IRS colleague: “So we don’t need to worry about teRroists [sic]. It’s our own crazies that will take us down... Maybe we are through if there are that many assholes."

11/15/2012
Ways and Means Oversight staff meet with IRS staff, including Director Lerner. The IRS staff does not mention knowledge that the IRS targeted conservative groups.

11/28/2012
ProPublica's Kim Barker and Justin Elliot receive private IRS tax information illegally

12/2012
IRS adds additional specialists in effort to scrutinize the tax-exempt status of conservative groups and launch audits of existing conservative nonprofit groups.

12/3/2012
Senator Grassley political event invitation inadvertently sent to Louis Lerner.

12/4/2012
11:04 AM
Matt Giuliano email to Dawn Marx, CC to Lois Call in Number, subject: FW: My Email address
"Dawn, Here is the correct letter inviting Louis to speak at the [redacted] seminar...
'From [redacted], Sent: Monday, December 03, 2012, To Matt Giuliana.
Thank you for the good humor under embarrassing circumstances! ...'"

11:09 AM
Lerner email to Giuliano, CC Dave Fish, Holly O Patz, Subject RE: My Email address:
"Is this the one where we got the copy to Grassley?
... Perhaps we should refer to Exam [audit]?"

11:55 AM
Lerner email to Giuliano, CC Dave Fish, Holly O Patz, Subject RE: My Email address:
"Don't think I want to be on stage with Grassley on this issue."

12:27 PM
Giulian email reply to Lerner:
"Not sure we should send exam.  I think the offer to pay for Grassley's wife is income to Grassley, and not a prohibited on its face."

12/31/2012
IRS Obamacare Official Sarah Hall Ingram logs 90 White House meetings for the year 2012.

1/24/2013
Louis Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations, e-mails Sharon Light of Organizing For Action (OFA):  "Oh--maybe I can get the DC office job!"  Suggesting, perhaps jokingly, that she could work for OFA.

1/25/2013
Internal IRS email forwards Rep. Cumming's request for information on True the Vote.

1/28/2013
Lerner email to Paz regarding Rep. Cummings request for True the Vote information:  "Did we find anything?" 
Paz response:  "Have not heard yet."
Lerner:  "Thanks - check tomorrow please."

1/31/2013
Paz authorizes IRS to share True the Vote 990s and other info (redacted) with Rep. Cummings.

3/14/2013
Treasury Inspector General J Russell George releases report on IRS Tax scandal

3/14/2013
Class action suit accuses corrupt and abusive IRS agents of stealing 10 million people's medical records without a warrant - including "intimate medical records of every state judge in California." John Doe Company sued 15 John Doe IRS agents in Superior Court.

4/2/2013
Email to internal IRS investigators from Lerner that tries to explain the “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) criteria used to select organizations for screening and scrutiny:
Because the BOLO only contained a brief reference to “Organizations involved with the Tea Party movement applying for exemption under 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4)” in June 2011, the EO Determinations manager asked the manager of the screening group, John Shafer [IRS Cincinnati field office manager], what criteria were being used to label cases as “tea party ” cases. (“Do the applications specify/state ‘ tea party’? If not, how do we know applicant is involved with the tea party movement?”) The screening group manager asked his employees how they were applying the BOLO’s short –hand reference to “tea party.” His employees responded that they were including organizations meeting any of the following criteria as falling within the BOLO’s reference to “tea party” organizations: “1. ‘Tea Party’, ‘Patriots’ or ’9/12 Project’ is referenced in the case file. 2. Issues include government spending, government debt and taxes. 3. Educate the public through advocacy/legislative activities to make America a better place to live. 4. Statements in the case file that are critical of the how the country is being run. . . “
So, we believe we have provided information that shows that no one in EO “developed” the criteria. Rather, staff used their own interpretations of the brief reference to “organizations involved with the Tea Party movement,” which was what was on the BOLO list.

4/16/2013
White House General Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler "first" learns of IRS targeting of conservatives

4/24/2013
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is briefed on IRS scandal by Ruemmler.

4/24/2013
Office of Management and Budget Director Jeffrey Zients leaves OMB with no public fanfare and no official White House statement on his departure.

5/8/2013
Richard Pilger, Director Elections Crime Branch at DOJ, calls Louis Lerner about coordinating IRS and DOJ efforts to create cases on applicants who "lied" (Lerner's use of quotation marks) on their 1024s.

5/9/2013
Nikole Flax (Chief of Staff to acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller) email tp Lerner in response to Lerner's email contemplating coordination with DOJ:  "I think we should do it...  Also, we need to reach out to FEC."

5/10/2013
American Bar Association conference is informed by Lerner's planted question of IRS targeting.

Lerner tells reporters that the examinations unit in Dallas was not involved in the targeting. "I think the examination function is different to begin with. They're used to looking at organizations in a very different way."

White House Spokesman Jay Carney learns of scandal.

President Obama is informed of IRS scandal.

5/14/2013
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report revealed that the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding terms such as “patriot” and “Tea Party” in their titles when applying for tax-exempt status. The TIGTA probe determined that “Early in Calendar Year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status (e.g., lists of past and future donors).”  The illegal IRS reviews continued for more than 18 months and “delayed processing of targeted groups applications” preparing for the 2012 presidential election.

5/16/2013
Obama appoints Danny Werfel to be acting IRS Commissioner.

5/21/2013
Congressional investigators interview Washington IRS technical unit supervisor Holy Paz (age early 20's).  She says she was personally involved in scrutinizing some of the earliest applications from tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status.  Holly Paz reviewed 20 to 30 applications.

5/21/2013
IRS misses its deadline to turn over documents to the House Ways and Means Committee.

5/21/2013
IRS’s director of Exempt Organizations Louis Lerner is placed on paid administrative leave after refusing to tender her resignation.  Her salary is $177,000.

5/22/2013
Louis Lerner invokes the Fifth Amendment before House hearing.

5/31/2013
IRS ignores Senate Finance Committee deadline to answer 41 questions regarding the scandal.

6/4/2013
Report:
Louis Lerner, placed on paid administration leave on 5/21 is still logging into the IRS’s computer system using her agency computer. She has the ability to access the same information that was available to her before she was placed on leave:
[Lerner] can still access taxpayer data. If your duties do not include dealing with taxpayers, you are forbidden from seeing the information. That is a violation of IRS policy, and if she actually accesses any file that contains any Personal Identifiable Information, it is a felony violation. That would include emails that she has in her files discussing any taxpayer case that contains the name, address, phone numbers or tax data from a case. Actual Unauthorized Access (IRS uses the term UNAX) would be a really good reason for the new boss to can her in a hurry. I am sure a simple examination of her email files and hard drive would discover she still has taxpayer data.

6/7/2013
Internal Revenue Service replaces Holly Paz, director of agency’s Rulings and Agreements office.  

6/9/2013
Rep. Cummings declares IRS "case is closed."

6/13/2013
While testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Robert Mueller could not name the lead investigator in the IRS case involving the targeting of conservative groups. It is now one month into the investigation.

6/13/2013
The IRS would not confirm or deny reports of firing Holly Paz (age early 20's), the director of the agency’s Rulings and Agreements office, citing her right to privacy as protected by federal law.

6/25/2013
According to documentation compiled by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has filed a class-action suit against the IRS, twelve different groups within the IRS targeted conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt nonprofit status.  Group 7821, Group 7822, Group 7823, Group 7824, Group 7827, Group 7828, Group 7829, Group 7830, Group 7838, EOG-7887, and EOG-7888, and the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division in Washington, D.C. all targeted conservative groups between 2010 and 2012.

6/26/2013
The Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA) Russell George sends a letter to congressional Democrats and Senator Levin reaffirming that conservatives, not liberals, were targeted.  Refuting Democratic suggestions that progressive groups were also swept up in the IRS probe of the tax status of Tea Party organizations, TIGTA has revealed that just six progressive groups were targeted compared to 292 conservative groups. TIGTA also said that 100 percent of Tea Party groups seeking special tax status were put under IRS review, while only 30 percent of the progressive groups felt the same pressure.

7/3/2013
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed, declines to acknowledge the existence of the report on former WH economic adviser Austan Goolsbee illegally accessed tax information on the Koch Industries.

7/3/2013
Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, informs Sen. Chuck Grassley
of four instances in which candidates tax records were improperly accessed.  Three cases were determined to be “inadvertent.”  “In the fourth case, we presented evidence of a willful unauthorized access to the Department of Justice, but the case was declined for prosecution.”

7/18/2013
Carter Hull, a tax law specialist with 48 years of experience at IRS, tells Congressional investigators that Lois Lerner, former head of Exempt Organizations division, demanded he send some of the reviews of tea party groups to IRS chief counsel’s office in Washington.

7/23/2013
White House: Former OMB director Jeffrey Zients is still out of the country, whereabouts unknown, on a family vacation.

7/23/2013
OMB spokesperson: Former OMB director Zients in South Africa.

7/31/2013
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa demands that the Federal Election Commission turn over records of more than five years of communications with the Internal Revenue Service.

8/6/2013
FEC chair Ellen Weintraub letter in response to Issa's 7/31 request: I immediately referred the matter to the FEC’s Inspector General for an impartial, independent review...

8/7/2013
Lerner, on paid leave since May, sends a signed IRS letter to a taxpayer .

8/8/2013
In closed door testimony before the House Ways & Means Committee, an unidentified IRS agent says requests for special tax status from Tea Party groups is still being forced into a special "secondary screening" because the agency has yet to come up with new guidance on how to judge the tax status of the groups.

8/8/2013
Colorad-based Citizens Awareness Project files a federal lawsuit against the IRS over the release of its application to ProPublica.

8/9/2013
Senior IRS official Sharon Light who served as an adviser to Lois Lerner is leaving the agency, leaving a critical vacancy in the Senior Technical Adviser team for the Director of Exempt Organizations.
Light will be replaced by Cindy Thomas, a 35-year IRS veteran who ran the Exempt Organizations office in Cincinnati throughout the 2-year period that conservative groups were targeted. 
Thomas signed off on the illegal release to the left-leaning ProPublica, of nine pending, confidential applications for tax exemption filed by conservative groups.

9/23/2013
Lois Lerner retires from IRS.

9/30/2013
Based on her $177,000 salary and National Taxpayers Union calculations, Lois Lerner's starting pension will be $102,600 per year.

10/30/2013
House committee investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of right-leaning groups has identified the IRS agent who leaked the confidential donor list of the National Organization for Marriage, a conservative organization that opposes gay marriage. NOM’s donor list, contained in a Form 990 Schedule B, which it is required by law to file with the IRS, was obtained in March 2012 by its chief political opponent, the Human Rights Campaign, and subsequently became the subject of several national news stories that centered on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s donation to the group.

2/6/2014
House hearing on IRS, Ms. Engelbrecht of True the Vote and her lawyer Ms. Mitchell testify that Rep. Cummings sent three letters to True the Vote demanding the exact same information as the IRS. 
Rep. Cummings denies this at the hearing: “What she just said is absolutely incorrect and not true.”

3/26/2014
In a House hearing IRS Commissioner John Koskinen pledges to produce every document the agency has  which might be related to the investigation.

4/9/2014
Rep. Issa accuses Rep. Cummings of colluding and coordinating with IRS in targeting True the Vote.

4/23/2014
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawmakers send a subpoena to Attorney General Holder after a Justice Department official refuses to testify about his role in the IRS' inappropriate scrutiny of Tea Party groups.  The committee wants Richard Pilger, director of the election crimes branch at the Justice Department, to testify about his phone call to former IRS official Lois Lerner in which he asked Lerner how "DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applications who 'lied' on their 1024s - saying they weren't planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures," as she recorded in an email after their conversation.
"The Department’s refusal to allow Mr. Pilger to testify about matters highly relevant to the Committee’s investigation unnecessarily delays and frustrates the Committee’s Constitutional oversight obligations.
"The Department’s obstruction in this regard, coupled with its failure to produce any relevant material to date, leads the Committee to conclude the Department is not seriously committed to cooperating with the Committee’s investigation on the Committee’s terms. Therefore, the Committee is issuing the attached subpoena..."

5/7/2014
House votes to hold Louis Lerner in contempt of Congress by a vote of 250-168 (26 Democrats voting in the affirmative).

5/8/2014
IRS promises to turn over all subpoenaed Lerner emails.

6/13/2014
IRS notifies Congress that a number of Lerner's emails are missing due to a "computer crash."
The supposedly lost emails cover January 2009 to April 2011, the period when Lerner is suspected of targeting conservative groups with coordination from outside groups such as the White House, Congressional staff members and the DOJ. The emails in question pertain to communications with these agencies.

6/16/2014
IRS informs Ways and Means chairman Dave Camp and subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany that computer crashes resulted in additional lost e-mails:
Nikole Flax: former chief of staff to IRS commissioner Steven Miller (Flax visited the WH 31 times between 7/12/10 - 5/8/13).
Michelle Eldridge: IRS national media relations chief.
Kimberly Kitchens: agent at Cincinnati office.
Nancy Heagney: agent at Cincinnati office.
Julie Chen: IRS Exempt Organization official.
Tyler Chumny: supervisory agent.

6/16/2014
Sharyl Attkisson:
“These emails are not stored on a signal server or a single computer, so if there were a crash of a hard drive or some sort of system failure, they would still be retrievable. According to [John] Koskinen, the IRS Commissioner at the time, he told Congress that emails were stored offsite. That jives with people who said emails were backed up daily. There is a responsibility on the part of government officials to retain the data, make sure that is and can’t be lost in the system. If it’s true that the emails are lost, that’s quite a story in itself.”
“One official wrote me…to say this is entirely implausible, and he said there are criminal penalties for destroying federal records, which makes sense, including liability for negligence for not taking the necessary steps to protect files, including a federal requirement to backup data. This doesn’t happen. He said … all email servers are backed up with something called ‘RAID’ (Redundant Array Of Independent Disks), and it’s nearly impossible for something to delete the files, and that even if that were to happen they would not be gone forever.”
“One final comment that this particular guy made, he said if there was a cover-up here — let’s just assume for the sake of argument that maybe something went wrong — he said laws have been broken during an alleged coverup that are much easier to prove than the original act, some poor IT schmuck, if you get him under oath, he will fold like a cheap suit, and I do feel like there is some truth to that. So if you call in the IT professionals who supposedly reported the crash and went after the irretrievable material and found they couldn’t be found I think you’d probably get the truth; and maybe the truth is nothing more than what the IRS says, but it’s just strange that they kept the subpoena and official request from Congress for 7-10 months without mentioning it that the emails don’t exist or are that they were gone. And it also then would be exposing a huge vulnerability in our federal computers if indeed data has been irretrievably lost by this. Remember, but the IRS is part of Healthcare.gov, if the IRS system can indeed be so vulnerable that some sort of crash can lose all kind of important data like this, what does t say about the federal system?”

6/18/2014
Treasury claims Lerner's hard drive has been "recycled."
IRS spokesman: “We believe the standard IRS protocol was followed in 2011 for disposing of the broken hard drive. A bad hard drive, like other broken Information Technology equipment, is sent to a recycler as part of our regular process.”

6/20/2014
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifies before House Ways and Means Committee.

6/23/2014
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifies before House Oversight Committee.

***
Under the Federal Records Act the Internal Revenue Service is required by federal law to keep records of all agency emails and to print out hard copies of the emails to make sure they get saved in the event of a computer glitch.

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Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times - twice more than any other cabinet member and 156 more times than his predecessor.  Some of these meetings in the White House were with Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter.

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Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS official currently in charge of overseeing the agency’s implementation of Obamacare, has logged 165 recorded visits to the White House 165 times since 2011.  She met six times with President Obama.  Ingram headed the IRS’ tax-exempt division in 2010 when the scandal-ridden agency began improperly targeting the tax-exempt nonprofit status of conservative groups.