Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.
“We've dealt with 15 agents, including tax law specialists -- that's lawyers -- from four different offices, including (the) Treasury (Department) in Washington, D.C.,” Sekulow said. “So the idea that this is a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati is not correct.”
But attorneys for some of the targeted groups’ provided documentation and two IRS employees in the Cincinnati office made statements to NBC News that call into question parts of the official explanation Americans have heard from the IRS so far.
Sekulow, who worked with the office of the chief counsel of the IRS in the early 1980s as a trial lawyer representing the IRS on tax-exempt cases, said the number of groups he’s heard from, and the scope of the requests for information the IRS sent them, persuaded him “that this was not something that was just created at an agent level, that this was certainly higher up.”
After reviewing all the IRS communications his clients received, Sekulow said he believes the IRS was engaged in a coordinated and deliberate attempt to silence, or at least stifle conservative organizations, he told NBC News.
Sekulow also said the practices continued well after May 2012, when the IRS has claimed they had stopped. Sekulow said 10 of the organizations he represents still have not received determinations from the IRS on their applications for tax-exempt status as 501 C (1)(4) organizations. He provided NBC News with a letter the IRS sent to one of his clients on May 6 requesting more information.