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.
Conservatives pay most of the taxes. Who else would they target?
the difference between Watergate and the IRS scandal is that the IRS scandal targets the American general public. It is the Government turning on us.
It's the GOP targeting the Obama Adminstration when the left does it....
But when Nixon did it, it was the end of the world as we know it.
Bottom line is that when you use the IRS as a weapon against your potliical opponents, it's wrong no matter what political party you hail from.
petunia, The democrats hate the GOP, THAT'S WHY.
and you know the IRS would not tell a lie.
I totally support Obama and the IRS targeting these tax-dodging religious freaks..confiscate their mega churches fort back taxes and send the creepy diddlers to prison to minister to the other diddlers for 30 years.
@Kathy, Glendale, AZ...
Are you a total fool? Really?? Lois Lerner pleads the 5th Amendment... Enough said!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Obama care act shifted 500 million to the IRS from medicare budget for 'implementing' the law. Its clear now The IRS funding went to 'other' activities, since the law isn't fully in effect til 2014. Where's the money trail?
The fish rots from the head down. If Obama is not the fish then who is?
@Scarface86 Kathy is a low information voter....She knows not what she is doing....
Don't let this be blamed on low-level employees. Demand to know the reason for 150+ meetings at the WH by head of agency.
I'm just in shock that I have to pay taxes, but these already obscenely wealthy political donation groups can get away with not. Wasn't that supposed to be a big issue the Tea Party was all about?
I think the Supreme Court needs to be urgently reformed.
Kathy getting HAMMERED right now. LOL!!!!!
Nixon used the IRS to spy on his political opponents and thus was impeached. Someone in the IRS (note: not the Obama administration as they have no influence over the organization BECAUSE of what Nixon did) targeted "social welfare" groups as participating in politics, which is a violation.
How are the two even remotely comparable?
"For the posters that are crying witch hunt, it should be kept in mind that Obama has condemned what has happened and called for the resignation of Lois Lerner. So, are you guys saying that Obama is engaging in a witch hunt against the IRS??"
So when Bush called for Alberto Gonzales resignation does that automatically make him culpable of illegal torture?
Obama has not called for Lerner's resignation. Put any link in that points to where that has been announced.
Obama himself has said this is in no way appropriate. So, Conservatives are not crying, they are in the right.
rolling eyes: I actually believed it was a serious scandal at the start. But as time went on, it CLEARLY turned into an excuse for republican legislators to attack the Obama administration, and liberals in general. If the legislature were actually interested in the truth, I might trust them... But they clearly have no interest in truth, at least as a whole. Their statements are inflammatory rhetoric rather than anything else.
Since you wanted to contrast it with Watergate, let's do that. In Watergate, a few thugs broke into the democratic headquarters. Their testimony incriminated people higher up, an sources ultimately pointed to the President. The scandal was two-fold: the president authorized the break-in, and he covered up the investigation,
There is ZERO evidence that either of these things have occurred with this 'scandal'. I am open minded and see some small value in looking for a connection between these actions and the presidency, but it is clear by your comments that you don't actually care if there is a link. That means you don't want the truth: you just want an excuse to condemn Obama, regardless of whether there is an actual connection or not.
That means the problem is actually with people like you, who want to hide the truth – or, more precisely, who only want to use this for political gain – not for truth seeking and honestly assigning blame, if there is blame to assign.
This is a lot like the Birther movement – it is based less on facts than it is based on a distrust of Obama. That makes it garbage.
There are no scandals.
The gop used the IRS to target left wing groups like the NAACP.
It is part of winning so lets hear from those IRS employees to to get both sides of the story cnn.
You helped the gop plot fake stories against your country.
Lets see some heads roll for that.
Mark my words. This is going to turn on the GOP. Just as they exaggerated Benghazi and then doctored e-mails and the AP "scandal" has lost all its air, this too will pass and they will be left holding the short end of the stick. Hopefully all of the Tea Party records have been kept, not just the ones suing, and they should be double checked to see if they really pass the smell test. If it turns out that all of their ranting uncovers some lies and cover-ups on the application forms of other Tea Party groups, then they will have to be held accountable. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for.
The IRS does need to be reined in. They are too powerful. But they have been this way for more then 5 years. Go back 20 or 30 years and I'm sure you can find the same old same old as we are experiencing now. We do need an over haul on our tax system. Remember that it is Congress that puts these laws into effect. Not the Executive end of our government. I'm not sure how many citizens are employed by the IRS but I'm sure it's a large number. To have 20 or 30 bad apples is not a large amount. Identify the problem and fix it. Do we really need to spend all this money so the Republicans can make the President look bad. Really!!! What bothers me more than any thing is the amount of money Congress is spending on this. Rep. Issa needs a different job. How about putting all this effort into passing some very important bills? Like interest on college loans. Rebuilding our infrastructures which would help put more people back to work. Were is Congress on these issues?
this is an old game...goes back n forth.
to: JCIII – oh such a scandal!! Lets tar and feather them all and then make them walk the plank and you can push them in the drink.
Non-profits were set up for Churches and other places of worship. For organizations such as Red Cross; Rotary Clubs and organizations that help the communities. NOT for political ways to raise money and buy elections. So I for one am glad that someone was watching the hen house.
This so-called scandal is nowhere near the level of scandal of Watergate. Groups were targeted when they applied for tax exempt status. Some application were delayed for far too long. Those involved in the scandal should have known better. Over the years many people felt they were targeted by the IRS. They have millions of returns and thousands of applications to receive tax-exempt status.
I do not believe that PAC should have tax exempt status. Their money is given to candidates for public office and their donors do not have to be identified. It does not matter what ideology they represent. Political operatives establish these groups and they pay zero taxes. Nice work if you can get it.
The problem is that IRS agents and officials are not elected. We can hold a politicians feet to the fire, however, these people are doing a job that the taxpayers have no voice about. My personal dealings with the IRS made it clear that deadlines were a priority for them. I guess it is for me and not for them. Maybe the house ought to charge a 21.5% rate for every day it is late.
Obama will fix everything. Thats why I voted for him.