The scandal over the IRS targeting Tea Party groups just got more scandalous: Senior IRS officials knew the groups were being singled out for extra scrutiny as early as 2011, according to documents obtained by the AP. Lois Lerner, the head of the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, was told that agents were targeting groups with "Tea Party," "Patriot," or "9/12 Project" in their names at a meeting two years ago, according to a draft of an inspector general's report expected to come out this week. It also says she instructed them to change the criteria immediately.
But just a few days ago, Lerner told the AP that no high-level IRS officials were aware of the targeting. Lerner is three levels below that of the IRS commissioner. In 2012, then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman told Congress, "There's absolutely no targeting." The part of the report seen by the AP does not say whether Shulman or anyone in the Obama administration was informed of the practice. But the IRS says the report does not contradict what either Shulman or Lerner has said. "While exempt organizations officials knew of the situation earlier, the timeline reflects that IRS senior leadership did not have this level of detail," it said in a statement.