WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Internal Revenue Service manager, who described himself as a conservative Republican, told congressional investigators that he and a local colleague decided to give conservative groups the extra scrutiny that has prompted weeks of political controversy.
In an official interview transcript released on Sunday by Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, the manager said he and an underling set aside "Tea Party" and "patriot" groups that had applied for tax-exempt status because the organizations appeared to pose a new precedent that could affect future IRS filings.
The excerpts of interviews with IRS workers released by Cummings indicate that the IRS manager and an underling first decided to contact Washington, D.C. IRS officials for guidance on the cases from groups aligned with the anti-tax Tea Party movement.
They did so to consolidate them, as they might be precedent-setting for future cases, the manager said, according to the interview transcripts.
Investigators asked Shafer if he believed the decision to centralize the screening of Tea Party applications was intended to target "the president's political enemies."
"I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do, other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development," the manager answered, according to a transcript released by Cummings.
Asked if he believed the White House was involved, the manager replied: "I have no reason to believe that."