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Top echelon IRS officials requested information on conservative groups even recently

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 29th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Intensive scrutiny of tea party, conservative political groups in the U.S. by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency's Cincinnati office, attorneys now say. Requests for further information often bore the signatures of higher-ups at the agency. At least one such letter bore the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Jay Sekulow, an attorney representing 27 conservative political advocacy organizations that applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status, says the groups' contacts with the IRS prove the actions went well beyond a few "front line" employees in the Cincinnati office.

"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."

Among the letters were several that bore return IRS addresses other than Cincinnati. Some of the letters included "Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C.," and the signatures of IRS officials higher up the chain.

Two specific letters with "Department of the Treasury / Internal Revenue Service / Washington, D.C." letterhead were signed by "Tax Law Specialist(s)" from Exempt Organizations Technical Group 1 and Technical Group 2.

Lerner's stamped signature appeared on a letter requesting additional information from the Ohio Liberty Council Corp.

Lerner is one of the most visible figures in the controversy after refusing to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Lerner cited her Constitutional Fifth Amendment rights after reading a brief statement. "I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws, violated IRS regulations or provided false information to this or any other committee," she declared.

Lerner is currently on administrative leave after reportedly refusing to resign at Obama administration's request. She is continuing to collect federal paychecks on her almost $180,000 annual salary. One Republican senator, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa is urging that she be fired.

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