COMMITTEE on WAYS and MEANS

Chairman Dave Camp

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Sarah Swinehart (202) 226-4774

Timeline of the IRS’s Abuse of Conservatives

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Washington, Jun 24 | comments
January 21, 2010
Citizen’s United Ruling: Supreme Court issues ruling in Citizens United case, which would lead to an active campaign by Democrats against conservative groups – a campaign Lerner was well aware of and reacted to.
 
January 27, 2010 
President Obama Goes on the Attack:  In his State of the Union address, President Obama states: “With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections.  I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
 
February 25, 2010

Cincinnati Flags Tea Party Cases: A Cincinnati-based IRS screener initially flags Tea Party applications for “media attention.” The information is forwarded to superiors in Washington, DC, and Cincinnati is told to hold pending further guidance.
 
March-April 2010
The Targeting Begins: According to TIGTA, the IRS’s Determinations Unit “began searching for other requests for exemption involving the Tea Party, Patriots, 9/12 and IRC § 501(c)(4) applications involving political sounding names, e.g., “We the People” or “Take Back the Country.”
 
September 26, 2010
White House Steps Up Attacks:  David Axelrod, then-senior advisor to President Obama, referred to Crossroads GPS and similar groups as “front groups for special interests. These are front groups for foreign-controlled companies, which would have been banned under the bill that we put through Congress, and they don't want the American people to know, and the American people ought to be alert to that."
 
October 12, 2010
Democrat Leaders Join Attack:  Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin urges the IRS to investigate the tax status of Crossroads GPS and “other orgs” – though no other organizations were named.
 
October 19, 2010

Lerner on Alert:  Speaking to students at Duke University, Lois Lerner states that 501(c)(4) organizations were spending money on campaign activity in the wake of the Citizens United decision and claimed, “[E]verybody is screaming at us, ‘fix it now before the election….”
 
February 1, 2011
Lerner Reacts to Tea Party: Lois Lerner sends email to colleagues saying “Tea Party Matter very dangerous…Cincy should probably NOT have these cases…”
 
March 24, 2011

Democrats Step Up Attacks: DCCC launches website to “expose donors of Crossroads GPS.”
 
June 3, 2011
Camp Chairman Investigates: Camp sends letter to Commissioner Shulman inquiring about IRS targeting of taxpayers who donated money to conservative groups, as well as information regarding audits of 501(c)(4) organizations.
 
June 13, 2011
Lois Lerner hard drive crashes.
 
June 29, 2011
Lerner Notified: According to TIGTA, IRS Exempt Organization Division director Lois Lerner is apprised of the IRS’s discriminatory practices.
 
July 1, 2011

IRS Fails to Notify Congress: The IRS responds to Chairman Camp’s June 3 letter by issuing a directive to halt investigations of donors pending further guidance. The IRS failed to provide any explanation or assurances to the Committee that targeting was not occurring.  
 
October 6, 2011
Boustany Inquires: Chairman Boustany sends letter to Commissioner Shulman requesting information regarding the tax-exempt sector.
 
November 18, 2011
The IRS responds to Chairman Boustany with some requested information but includes no mention of knowledge of targeting conservative groups.
 
December 16, 2011
Ways and Means Oversight staff met with IRS staff, including Lois Lerner. The IRS staff did not mention knowledge that the IRS targeted conservative groups.
 
February 2012
In a transcribed interview of former Commissioner Shulman in November 2013, Shulman recalls being told by then Deputy Commissioner Steve Miller in February 2012 that some Tea Party groups had received inappropriate requests for donor information.
 
March 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.”
 
March 12, 2012
The IRS responds with no mention of knowledge of targeting conservative groups.
 
March 22, 2012
The Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee holds its 2012 hearing on the tax return filing season and general IRS operations. Chairman Boustany asks then-IRS Commissioner Shulman about reports that the IRS has been targeting Tea Party groups. Shulman responds, “I can give you assurances…[t]here is absolutely no targeting.”
 
March 23, 2012

The IRS sends a supplementary response containing additional information, but again, makes no mention of knowledge of targeting conservative organizations.
 
April 23, 2012
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Boustany and 61 other House Republicans sign a letter to Commissioner Shulman inquiring about reports that “numerous nonprofit civic organizations across the country have experienced extensive delays and received excessively burdensome information requests” when applying for tax-exempt status.
 
April 26, 2012
The IRS sends a second supplementary response but includes no information about its discriminatory practices.
 
May 3, 2012
After numerous responses from the IRS, Chairman Camp sends a 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.
 
June 14, 2012
Treasury official Ruth Madrigal emails Lois Lerner and other IRS employees regarding addressing 501(c)(4) groups “off-plan”
 
June 15, 2012
The IRS responds to the April 23 letter from Chairman Boustany and 61 other House Republicans, but includes no information about the IRS’s practices.
 
July 25, 2012

The Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee holds a hearing on charitable organizations. In response to questions regarding reported IRS harassment of conservative groups, then-IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement Steve 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 made no reference to the IRS’s discriminatory practices.
 
Fall 2012
The IRS makes all 2010 and 2011 501(c)(4) applications available to Ways and Means Committee staff, pursuant to Chairman Camp’s May 3 request.
 
November 15, 2012

Ways and Means Oversight staff met with IRS staff, including Lois Lerner. The IRS staff did not mention knowledge that the IRS targeted conservative groups.
 
June 3, 2011-present
Beginning with Chairman Camp’s initial June 3, 2011 letter, Ways and Means Committee staff conducts an investigation into whether the IRS improperly targeted conservative political groups and their donors. Throughout the entirety of the investigation, IRS officials make no effort to inform Ways and Means staff that the IRS had, in fact, targeted conservative groups.
 
May 10, 2013
At an American Bar Association function, Lois Lerner, director of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division, publicly apologizes for the IRS’s discrimination against conservative organizations during the 2012 election.
 
May 10, 2013
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Boustany sends a letter to then-Acting Commissioner Miller requesting information regarding the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.
 
May 14, 2013
Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin send a bipartisan letter to then-Acting Commissioner Miller requesting information regarding the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.
 
May 17, 2013
The Committee convenes a hearing on the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, hearing testimony from Acting IRS Commissioner Miller and Treasury Inspector for Tax Administration George. The hearing is the first congressional hearing on the issue.
 
June 4, 2013

The Committee convenes a hearing with representatives of organizations targeted by the IRS for their personal beliefs. The Committee heard testimony from several victims of IRS targeting.
 
June 24, 2013
After little fact finding, acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel publishes his 30-day report.
 
June 27, 2013
The Committee convenes a hearing examining then-Acting Commissioner Werfel’s 30-day report.
 
June 27, 2013
Various news outlets report that, in a letter to Ranking Member Levin, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration George said “progressive” groups were not targeted.
 
July 24, 2013
Chairman Camp and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Issa send a letter to Principal Deputy Commissioner Werfel requesting information about personnel involved in the targeting of conservative groups.
 
July 25, 2013
Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin send a bipartisan letter to Principal Deputy Commissioner Werfel expressing concern at the slow pace of IRS document production.
 
July 31, 2013
Chairman Camp and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Boustany sends a letter to then-Principal Deputy Commissioner Werfel regarding IRS communications with Federal Election Commission officials.
 
August 12, 2013
Chairman Camp and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Boustany sends a letter to then-Acting Commissioner Werfel with new evidence that the IRS was still targeting conservative groups. The Chairmen demanded Mr. Werfel cease the targeting.
 
August 13, 2013

Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Boustany sends a letter to Comptroller General Dodaro asking that the Government Accountability Office undertake a review of how the IRS selects exempt organizations for audit.
 
September 18, 2013
The Oversight Subcommittee convenes a hearing focusing on the state of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Division following TIGTA’s May 14, 2013 audit report and then-Acting Commissioner Werfel’s 30-day report.
 
September 25, 2013

Chairman Camp sends a letter to Acting Commissioner Werfel regarding improperly-obtained donor information that remained in case files after the IRS insisted it had been destroyed.
 
November 29, 2013
Treasury publishes proposed rules for 501(c)(4) groups, rules that would effectively restrict groups’ freedom of speech.
 
January 14, 2014

Chairman Camp introduces H.R. 3865, “Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014.” The bill would prohibit Treasury from finalizing its proposed rules for 501(c)(4) groups for one year in order to allow for the completion of congressional investigations on the matter.
 
January 30, 2014
Chairman Camp sends a letter to Treasury Secretary Lew and a letter to IRS Commissioner Koskinen requesting all documents related to the development of Treasury’s proposed rules for 501(c)(4) groups.
 
February 11, 2014
The Committee convenes a markup of H.R. 3865, “Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014.”
 
February 26, 2014
The House of Representatives takes up H.R. 3865, “Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act of 2014.” The bill passes.
 
February 5, 2014
The Oversight Subcommittee convenes a hearing focusing on a variety of issues facing the IRS, including the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, as well as Treasury’s proposed rules for 501(c)(4) groups. The hearing is Commissioner Koskinen’s first appearance before Congress.
 
February 24, 2014

Chairman Camp sends a letter to IRS Commissioner Koskinen demanding fulfillment of his request for all Lois Lerner emails. Chairman Camp writes that if he does not receive the documents, he will consider a subpoena.
 
April 9, 2014
The Committee sends a letter to Attorney General Holder referring Lois Lerner for three specific acts she undertook that may have violated one or more criminal statutes.
 
May 8, 2014
Chairman Camp announced that the IRS finally agreed to turn over all Lois Lerner emails based on Commissioner Koskinen pledge.
 
May 22, 2014

IRS Commissioner Koskinen announces that Treasury is scrapping its proposed rules for 501(c)(4) groups, partly due to overwhelming public opposition.
 
June 13, 2014
The IRS claims it lost an untold number of Lois Lerner’s emails between January 1, 2009 and April 2011. While the Committee was in possession of some Lerner emails from this time period, those only include emails written to or from other IRS employees. Any emails written to or from Lerner from people outside the IRS would, according to the IRS, be lost.
 

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