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Was IRS targeting limited to Cincinnati office? – Yahoo! News

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional investigators are starting to see cracks in the Internal Revenue Service argument that a small group of agents in the Cincinnati office solely targeted conservative political groups.

Investigators, who are still in the early stages of their probe, have not uncovered any direct evidence that senior officials in Washington ordered the agents to target tea party groups, or why they may have done so.

But two agents in the IRS’s Cincinnati office say they believe their work was being closely monitored by higher-ups in Washington. One agent, Elizabeth Hofacre, complained to investigators that she was being micromanaged by Washington when she processed applications for tax-exempt status by tea party groups, according to a transcript of her interview with investigators.

Her interview suggests a long trail of emails that could support her claim.

“It was demeaning,” Hofacre said. “One of the criteria is to work independently and do research and make decisions based on your experience and education, whereas on this case, I had no autonomy at all through the process.”

The revelation could prove to be significant if investigators are able to show that Washington officials were involved in singling out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. IRS officials have said repeatedly that the targeting was initiated by front-line agents in the Cincinnati office and was stopped once senior officials in Washington found out.

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