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AP Exclusive: IRS knew tea party targeted in 2011 – Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON AP — Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general’s report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner.The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog’s report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with “Tea Party,” ”Patriot” or “9/12 Project” in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.The 9/12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck. In a statement to the AP, Beck suggested that the revelations were hardly news to him and other conservatives.”In February 2012, TheBlaze first reported what the IRS now admits to — that they unfairly targeted conservative groups including the 9/12 project,” Beck said, citing his website and TV network. “It is nice to see everyone else playing catch-up and finally asking the same questions that TheBlaze started raising over a year ago.”Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups “immediately,” the report says.

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