Bipartisan Congressional Demand: Provide All Communications Between IRS and WH About Targeting Conservatives; Warns: Don't Destroy, Modify or Remove Any Documents

By Terence P. Jeffrey | May 15, 2013 | 4:26am EDT

Rep. David Camp (R-Mich.) and Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) on Capitol Hill, Feb. 1, 2012. (AP File Photo)

( - Rep. Sander Levin (D.-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, has joined Rep. Dave Camp (R.-Mich.), the committee chairman, in demanding that the Internal Revenue Service answer by next Tuesday thirteen questions posed by the committee relating to IRS discrimination against conservative and pro-Israel groups and, where relevant, provide all internal agency documents and communications substantiating the answers.

The committee's bipartisan demand for documents includes all communications between the IRS and the White House about the IRS's targeting of conservative groups.

The committee also warns the IRS in the letter not to destroy, modify or remove any of the records the committee is seeking.

This document-and-information demand, sent in a letter dated Tuesday to acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, ups the ante from a letter that Rep. Charles Boustany (R.-La.), chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, sent Miller last Friday demanding that the IRS provide the committee by today (May 15) not only with all internal communications using the words “tea party,” “patriot” or “conservative,” but also with the names and titles of all officials involved in discriminating against tea party and conservative organizations.

As of Tuesday, the IRS was not saying whether it would comply with that request from its congressional oversight committee. But, now, the agency must deal with the more comprehensive demand for documents and information communicated directly by the committee’s bipartisan leadership.

Camp's and Levin's letter includes a list of detailed instructions explaining to the IRS the scrupulosity with which the committee expects the agency to respond to the document demand.

"In complying with this request, you shall produce all responsive records that are in your possession, custody or control," the committee instructed the IRS. "Records responsive to the request shall not be destroyed, modified, removed, transferred, or otherwise made inaccessible to the committee."

The most striking question that Democrat Ranking Member Levin and Republican Chairman Camp are asking the IRS goes to the issue of potential White House involvement in the scandal.

Specifically, Levin and Camp ask: “Did the IRS at any time notify the White House of the targeting of conservative or other groups? Provide all documents and communications between the IRS and the White House on this matter.”

Levin and Camp sent this inquiry to the IRS a full day after President Obama publicly declared that he personally had only learned about the IRS targeting of conservative groups when he saw news reports about it at the end of last week.

“I first learned about it from the same news reports that I think most people learned about this,” Obama said Monday at a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron. “I think it was on Friday.”

Levin and Camp also told the IRS that the committee wants all documents and communications relevant to the agency’s reported discrimination against pro-Israel groups.

“Media reports have detailed that the IRS conducted special reviews of organizations whose missions involve Israel,” Levin and Camp wrote. “Did the IRS undertake special reviews of these and other organizations whose activities contradict or are inconsistent with administration policies? If so, provide all documents relating to these practices.”

Levin and Camp additionally directed a question at Acting IRS Commissioner Miller asking why he did not tell the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight about the targeting of conservatives in testimony he delivered to that subcommittee last July.

“In your testimony before the Oversight Subcommittee on July 25, 2012,” Levin and Camp wrote Miller, “you were directly asked about the reports that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups, to which you responded 'I am aware that some 200 501(c )(4) applications fell into this category [the determination letter process]. We did group these organizations together to ensure consistency, to ensure quality.’

“It has come to our attention,” Levin and Camp continued, “that you were  briefed on this issue in May 2012. If at the time of the hearing you knew that IRS personnel had targeted groups for extra scrutiny based on their political beliefs, why didn’t you share all of this information with the subcommittee at that time?”

Miller will testify in the full committee on Friday alongside Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration whose office has just completed an audit of the IRS on this issue.

Levin and Camp have instructed Miller to answer the questions in their letter and provide the documents the committee is requesting by next Tuesday, May 21.

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