Updated 5:49 p.m. ET Friday 5/31
Washington (CNN) – The Internal Revenue Service has told House GOP investigators they have identified 88 IRS employees who may have documents relevant to the congressional investigation into targeting of conservative groups, according to a congressional source familiar with the investigation.
The IRS asked these employees to preserve all the "responsive documents" on their computers, and it has been in the process of collecting it all to comply with congressional requests for information. The IRS missed its May 21st deadline to turn over documents to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The same source said the IRS argues it missed its deadline because of the scope of documents it is collecting.
The request for documents was a bipartisan one, but Republicans are privately preparing to seize on the fact that if nearly 90 IRS employees may have been somehow involved in this targeting, it is evidence that the controversy extends well beyond the mistakes by a few low level employees.
However, with no documents in hand, there is no way to know how many of the employees being asked to preserve documents were truly involved in the activity in question. The IRS, in a statement to CNN, said the large number reflects its effort to ensure they are as responsive as possible to the Congressional requests.
"The IRS and Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel are moving aggressively and taking the data requests very seriously. As a precautionary measure, the IRS is casting a wide net to capture any potentially related materials. Our goal is to be exceedingly thorough during this process to ensure we identify any and all pertinent records," the IRS statement said. "The IRS has received numerous congressional requests involving an extensive set of questions and calls for data. Responding to these requests is a top priority for us. We have been in contact with committee staff, and we continue to provide them updates as we diligently work through these requests."
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The IRS is responding to multiple Congressional requests for information and struggling to meet the deadlines. According to a Senate Finance Committee aide, the IRS told the committee it will also miss Friday's deadline to produce documents relevant to the tea party targeting.
In a joint statement from the press offices of Sens. Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch, the committee's Democratic chairman and its top Republican, said they were disappointed and that the agency needed to do better.
"This is an agency that revolves around making the American taxpayer meet hard deadlines each and every year when they file their taxes, oftentimes penalizing those that are late," the statement said.
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More problems are on the horizon for the IRS. Rep. Darrell Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will hold a hearing next week on an audit of the agency's "spending culture and conference abuses."
The committee will focus on the report released by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that shows excessive spending at IRS conferences.
Werfel said in a statement that the report will focus on an IRS conference that took place in 2010 and labeled it an "unfortunate vestige from a prior era."
"While there were legitimate reasons for holding the meeting, many of the expenses associated with it were inappropriate and should not have occurred," he said, adding new rules have been put in place and such a conference will not happen under his watch.
As a former IRS employee (retired after 32 years) I think all of this is just a "witch hunt" to satisfy the stupid, conspiracy nuts GOP. I have every confidence that ANY investigation will find absolutely NOTHING WRONG on the part of any of the IRS employees. I have NEVER known ANY IRS employees (and I worked in several offices), who didn't take their jobs seriously & follow IRS Codes & Regs to the letter of the law.
"The IRS asked these employees to preserve all the "responsive documents" on their computers,"...........Thats like asking somebody to dig their own grave. Pretty sure the employees who were doing shady stuff probably did some house cleaning when all of this stuff was exposed.....
During the Clinton years, specifically in 1998, Dan Burton, Republican, did nothing but investigate, investigate and investigate the Clinton Whitehouse. Nothing came of it.. That Fall the Democrats gained seats and Gingrich resigned the following year... He recently said.. "Yeah... we overeached in 1998".. Keep it up Republicans!! Keep searching for any nuggets out there. The crook was Bush... not Obama! You may not like his policies, but the man is not a crook!! But keep repeating your mistakes...
Yeah Kathy, the IRS is the most trustworthy organization out there.......I am pretty sure that your post is the most naive (and quite possibly the dumbest) post I have ever seen.
So much for the initial statement of only one or two rogue office workers were involved.
You libs need to stop whining and face the facts. We have a renegade IRS who were taking orders from above. Now the question is how high this goes. There are a lot of people who are looking at jail time. I don't blame Lerner for taking the Fifth, since she has committed several crimes.
Best way to control the information and keep it from the public, collect it from the employees before they leak it
All they have to do is take the names at the bottom of IRS letters that targeted Christian, Jews, Tea Party, 912, Republican donors asking for illegal information. Bring each of them and their bosses in for questioning. They need to be put on leave.and investigated.
@Chris,computers in IRS and some other government installations can't be erased or deleted ,it'll show what's there and that spells guilty as well!!Just another Issa,republican generated witch hunt that's bound to lose..Issas credibility is going down the toilet with every committee he creates this I just another one and beware Issa,republicans audits could be coming your way!!
Good for IRS.
I have been paying a growing amount of taxes to the IRS for over 30 years and have learned through experience to call the IRS repeated times with the same question and average the IRS' different answers to the same questions. I have also learned to always treat the IRS employees as the Almighty because that is how they view themselves. Once they think you "understand" they are a superior being the quality of help goes from poor to adequate. Quite honestly we could and should determine a way to eliminate the IRS.
Oh, yes. The head of the goons at the IRS doesn't know what's going on in the agency they run, but Kathy from Glendale (commenter) knows what 90,000+ employees are up to. Got it.
As a tax payer I think the IRS sucks.
You're not biased ? Are you? Because I have experiance directly 180 degrees in the other direction of conduct.
Man does the corruption run deep in this administration.
Kathy from glendale....The IRS has already admitted to targeting tea party. Are you calling them liars? Or are you saying that this has always been Standard Operating Procedures.
Witch Hunt? Can you be so ignorant of the facts? It's not whether or not political groups were targeted, that much is widespread and known. What has yet to be determined is who is responsible. It's a shame that being a liberal means to be completely devoid of common sense and reasoning.
@Kathy, yes, humans are perfect. Especially those at the IRS.
Kathy in AZ:
Get over yourself and admit when a government agency abuses power (these incidents are legion). The abuse is clear as day, but I can only assume your devotion to the Left-Right Party paradigm is clouding your judgment.
Kathy – The IRS has already admitted to something, so your claim is a little ridiculous. It is not GOP nuts making that up.
Sorry, folks, but if this had been a Bush or any Repub-run administration bullying political opponents via the IRS, DOJ and other govt agencies the way Obama has, the president would have been impeached. And rightfully so. bcrunner, all we have seen from Obama is typical Chicago politicking 24/7.
These are nothing like/are much more serious than the Clinton investigation, which were frivolous. These are something altogether different, and will likely affect dems much more than republicans...and not in a good way. I think it is widely agreed that investigations are necessary with this mess...it is this administration that has overreached. Any accusation of republican overreach just exposes the smell of fear.
NOW people will start to talk and tell where the orders came from
The IRS is investigating itself? HA, a crooked government agency is going to give us the truth?
So it's up to 88 'rogue' agents.