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."
READ MORE: Did IRS chief really visit White House 157 times?
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.
READ MORE: House investigators questioning IRS Cincinnati workers
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.
@Kathy from Glandale AZ. As a high paying taxpayer who funds the criminal organization you used to work for. I disagree. The IRS should not be in the business of treating any Political Party over another. That is what Communism is all about. If you would like to live under Communism you can go live in China or better yet Cuba.
How does the head of a powerful Org admit wrongdoing, and then in less than a week plead the fifth. Lerner's name is all over this and she wants the whistleblower immunity.
Kathy, how can you say that an investigation will show that absolutely nothing wrong was done on the part of IRS employees? Lois Lerner with the IRS is the one who admitted that the IRS was wrongfully tarketing conservative and tea party groups. I find it odd that a top IRS official would announce the wrong doing and apologize for it, but people still believe that nothing improper was done. In your 32 year history with IRS did you notice anything in the rule book that said it was acceptable for the IRS to target groups strictly for political reasons? The only thing left to do at this point is determine how this happened, identify the parties responsible and then punish the perpetrators if if the rules were broken.
A posting here by a former IRS employee which reflects political partisan fears of conservatives and the GOP seems to lend credibility to targeting. The investigation must go on to determine who rolled out this policy which specifically targeted one end of the political spectrum. That is just wrong by any standard.
In response to Kathy from Glendale's comment, I would also like to think the IRS has done nothing wrong, but perhaps she does not realize that the IRS has ADMITTED to illegally targeting conservative groups, and the investigation is being conducted to fully understand the extent of the activities, and how far into the Obama Administration the direction to do so originated. To imply that this investigation is simply a witch hunt is to fail to see the extreme failure of the IRS to conduct its duties within legal and ethical limits.
Bc- no he obama s a crook, if he knew anything about the IRS targets, than sorry he's a crook
Kathy, you are living in denial because it is an uncontroverted fact that the IRS targeted conservative groups, translated for the hard of hearing, that is EVERYONE from the White House and both sides of the isle admit it. And that Lois Lerner refused to testify as to the details of this illegal scheme. Even the Dems are calling for a special prosecutor and in the end people are going down...just a question of how high up the ladder this climbs and whether the perpetrators are allowed to slink away by resigning...like Commissioner Miller who obviously lied to Congress last year, or will face criminal charges...especially Lois Lerner?
Kathy hundreds of IRS employees are fired every year for breaking the law. Get off your high horse.
This gets deeper every day.
The IRS Commissioner, the guy who showed up on the White House visitor's log 157 times (he remembers being there for the Easter Egg roll) is married to a lady who... works at a left wing firm that digs up stuff on conservative groups.
Who woulda thunk it?
@ bcrunner – "but the man is not a crook". This may be so but that means he's incompetent, and oblivious to what's happening around him. Maybe playing less golf and not trying to be a comedian might be helpful.
Kathy of Glendale..............um! with 39 year affiliation with said agency, you are naïve beyond belief. The majority of my affiliation was at the senior level of supervision. Just the "hoops" one was required to jump through to remove any employee, even for cause was too much for many to tackle.........when a manager has to purchase their own umbrella insurance policy to protect them from being sued by the union and disgruntled employees............enough said! This is no witch hunt by any stretch of imagination..........word is spreading and the "natives" are contacting their elected representatives demanding investigation of this abuse of the power to tax. That is why, Kathy, there are also democrat representatives demanding answers as well.
This is just a fishing expedition but in taking on the IRS they may have met their match - when it comes to interpreting legal fine print and mountains of paperwork these civil servants are masters of the craft. Although the IRS isn't everyone's favorite agency I wish them well; they were reacting to a surge in applications for tax free status from what were blatantly political organizations and doing it in a practical and economical way. I only hope that their management avoids the temptation to throw various employees under the bus (Louis Lerner?) in what will be a futile attempt to placate Congress (the more you feed them, the worse they get).
@Kathy, Glendale, AZ; @bcrunner – Since you have nothing to hide, could we have a list of your prayers, meetings in your bedrooms, any phone conversations in the past three years (with transcripts), and any future actions you intend to carry out for the rest of your existence? Seriously, do you people even read what has taken place?
It's obvious that the Obama Campaign did everything possible to win the 2012 election. Holder can't resign because he Knows too much. once some of the top officials resign, congress will offer them immunity to testify and spill the beans.
Way to Go, Kathy! Stick to that party line, "I did nothing wrong." That's the Nuremberg defense: "We were just following orders. That's the way we were trained."
Who are they trying to fool? The IRS has massive servers that retain all employees emails indefinitely. The IRS doesn't need to ask the employees to turn over "relevant" emails to investigators. All the investigators need to do is go to the IT department and download every email any employee has ever sent or received. Federal employees have no reasonable expectation to privacy. This is a perfect example of why the Feds need to dive deep into the "rogue" employees email activities.
Asking The IRS to investigate itself, is like asking a murder to collect the evidence at his own crime scene....
Kathy, you are correct, this is a with hunt. The IRS targeted "conservative" groups only. Not one single liberal group was targeted, not one. This was a way to silence conservative groups and keep them out of the debate. bcrunner, you mentioned Clinton. I remember him as lying under oath, had an affair with an intern, Vince Foster death, etc. That is the best argument you can come up with? Checks and balances, that is how our Government is set up.
Now we find out that at least 88 employees were involved in targeting conservatives, and yet this is a "witch hunt" involving a few rogue employees?
This isn't going to end well for the Obama Administration.
Maybe you guys are forgetting the fact the IRS has already admitted to targeting based on political views and unlawfully releasing private docs to progressives. These facts are not disputed by anyone, accept blind people like you. It was admitted openly and is being reported all over nationally. Investigations are simply trying to understand the full scope of what we know occurred .
Kathy, I hope you are right, but still it needs to be investigated to make sure of no wrong doing. No one wants the IRS to be targeting anyone and I for one think any political group doesn't need tax exempt status, Their is a lot of money that goes into these groups on both sides and both need to pay "their fair share"
This is a scenario of Congressmen being a bunchof pile-ons instead of proactive public servants. Mr. Issa, Chairman of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, new of the allegations almost a year ago. Instead of using his power to fulfill his duty of overseeing a government agency, he sits back and waits for an internal audit that does not investigate the root of the allegations. After a full year passes, Congress decides to use its own investigators, when they should have done so a year ago. Geez
@bcrunner......Have you forgotten about the 1K investment that Hillery made and turned it into 100K? Whitewater scandel. I am sure there was more, it's just that people kept dieing when they were supposed to testify. There is not a single politician innocent of corruption or bribery in todays circles.
Kathy, Glendale, AZ. So you would agree, that if true, it is absolutely the worst thing anyone at the IRS or any other government agency could do and all those who are convicted should spend many many years in jail?
That is, to use the power and authority of the IRS to try to affect the outcome of a presidential election by limiting certain groups first amendment rights that that they disagreed with. Just so we are clear, this is what this is all about.
The foundation of our Republic - the confidence of the voters in the "system" and fairness in the tax system.
Also, the argument that the laws are too lax doesn't give the individual the right limit the rights of others as they see fit. That is called vigilantism. If everyone did this, then we'd have anarchy. If the laws are too lax, then change the laws through the legal process.
oh nice, NOW they decide to investigate. moronic