Staff of the Oversight Committee questioned Lerner and other IRS officials last year after receiving complaints from Ohio tea party groups that they were being mistreated by the IRS. In responses to the committee, Lerner didn’t mention that tea party groups had ever been targeted, according to documents. Her responses included 45-page letters in May 2012 to Issa and Jordan.
Lerner also met twice in early 2012 with staff from the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee to discuss the issue, according to a timeline constructed by committee staff. The timeline said she didn’t mention at either meeting that conservative groups had been targeted.
George’s report found that in June 2011, Lerner discovered that her unit was searching for organizations with words like ‘‘tea party’’ or ‘‘patriots’’ in their applications and subjecting them to tougher questions. She ordered the initial tea party criteria to be scrapped, but it later evolved to include groups that promoted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the report said. Lawmakers are curious about why the practice didn’t stop entirely.
A career civil servant who has run the division since late 2005, Lerner has not been disciplined for her role, IRS officials said.
Also coming under fire Wednesday for not telling Congress about the targeting was Douglas Shulman, who was IRS commissioner from 2008 until last November, while the screening was occurring. Shulman was appointed by President George W. Bush.
On Tuesday, Shulman told the Senate Finance Committee that he learned in the spring of 2012 about his agency’s targeting of conservatives and George’s probe. He said he didn’t tell lawmakers or officials at Treasury — of which the IRS is part — because he only had sketchy information about the situation, was told it was being handled and believed it proper to let George’s office conduct its investigation.
‘‘When you learned that there was a list, you did nothing,’’ said Lynch, the Massachusetts congressman.