IRS?PROBE: Taxing time in Washington

Last week, Internal Revenue Service officials insisted high-ranking leaders at the agency were not aware some conservative political groups were being harassed over tax matters. Only “low-level” employees knew, the public and members of Congress were assured.

That is not true. The Associated Press learned during the weekend that the head of the IRS division that handles tax-exempt organizations was made aware in June 2011 that conservatives were being targeted. More high-ranking officials were informed that August.

Only in January 2012 – seven months after the harassment became common knowledge at high levels in the IRS – did the agency alter its policies in an attempt to make them less onerous for conservative groups.

That March, then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman assured members of Congress, “There’s absolutely no targeting.” During the ensuing months, until this spring, no one attempted to correct the record. Even now, the IRS insists, “There were not partisan reasons behind this.”

Do officials in President Barack Obama’s administration believe Americans are stupid? Apparently so. Why would only conservative groups be harassed by the IRS if there were no “partisan reasons” involved?