House investigators have determined that the extra scrutiny the Internal Revenue Service gave conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status started somewhere other than Cincinnati, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp said Wednesday
But just where it began still isn't known, according to The Hill
"We know it didn't originate in Cincinnati," Camp said after speaking at an event hosted by Baker Hostetler and the Federal Policy Group. "We still don't know who did originate this."
Soon after IRS scandal broke last month, the agency said two "rogue" employees in the agency's Cincinnati office were the main culprits behind overly aggressive investigation of requests for tax-exempt status by groups with the words "tea party" and "patriot" in their names. That was the White House line, too.
The Ways and Means Committee still has a lot of work to do, Camp said. "We're not anywhere near being able to jump to conclusions. And there are a lot more people we have to talk to."
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Cal., told CNN earlier this month
that interviews with Cincinnati IRS staffers indicate the targeting was "a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters."
The proof will come soon, he said.
"My gut tells me that too many people knew this wrongdoing was going on before the election, and at least by some sort of convenient, benign neglect, allowed it to go on through the election," Issa said.
"I'm not making any allegations as to motive, that they set out to do it, but certainly people knew it was happening."
Cincinnati IRS employees said in their interviews with House Oversight Committee investigators that they thought the targeting of conservative groups came from Washington, rather than a couple of "rogue agents," according to The Daily Caller
Could just two rogue agents be responsible?
"It's impossible," one Cincinnati IRS official told the media. "As an agent, we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen," according to transcripts of the conversations.
This staffer said the IRS was using the Cincinnati staffers as scapegoats.
"I still hear people saying we were low‑level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C. So take it for what it is. They were basically throwing us underneath the bus."
Meanwhile, Cleta Mitchell, one of Washington's most respected elections attorneys, told Newsmax TV
last month she has tangible proof that high-ranking IRS officials in Washington were fully aware of the targeting.
She thinks President Barack Obama knew about the practice, too. And that could be an impeachable offense, Mitchell said.
She said a Cincinnati IRS agent told her that applications by two of Mitchell's conservative clients were being processed by — and would ultimately be approved or denied in — Washington.
Mitchell represents six groups which say they have been targeted, including the King Street Patriots and True the Vote.
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