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.
The IRS is going to find themselves in hot water if they continue to snub their noses at the very congress that funds them. I am not a fan of conspiracy theory and do not beleive that a secret mission to obstruct conservatives was in play. It appears to be the opposite, a very blatant and wide spread effort to obstruct conservatives and retailiate against liberal opponents. For it to be a conspiracy, it would need to be secret. This one is plain as the light of day. Soon a special prosecutor will be offering immunity for testimony and the floodgates will open. The best way to deal with roaches is to cut the lights on.
To thos of you who think there was no wrong doing at the irs, and that its just an evil gop witch hunt... Ok, now that your comments are presetved in cyberspace, i'm sure you'll adopt the same view in coming years when the sho is on the other foot, and out of amazing cooincidence, the irs investgates and audits planned parenthood, media matters, the sierra club, campaign donors to democratic candidates, and labor unions etc, and instructs gun rights acivists not to protest in front of gun shops or gun manfacturers. Of course, by then, there will be -0- irs audits of any conservatives anywhere, right ?
The IRS has already admitted to wrong doing – this has nothing to do with Obama. The only thing left to determine is the scope. If you want to get rid of "big brother" change the tax code. To turn a blind eye is simply foolish.
These employees system are client to the server all activity is backed up daily no need to ask for their compliance. What gives here?
As I have always said...the members of The Liberal Mob can find a way to justify any and all immoral, illegal, and/or unethical behavior no matter how egregious.
No Obama isn't a crook, he's a lying, corrupt, two faced empty suit, wanta be Chicago thug, and the most unqualified man ever to hold the office of POTUS. The IRS is getting their clocked cleaned, they are being shown for what they are, bullies that preyed on people who dared cross their Master, good riddance to bad rubbish.
Kathy, Your argument has no merit. The IRS has already ADMITTED to unfairly targeting conservative organizations. At this point, the question is not if they did it, but rather how widely they did it, and how far up the food chain the order came from.
Just a thought but the IRS is the collection agency for the privately owned Federal Reserve.The Tea Party and other organizations were calling for a federal reserve audit could it be that the Federal Reserve boss ordered audits of those groups to prove who does the auditing in this country.
Wow. Both sides are the same. Divide and Conquer. Bush is no different than the current figure head... it is no more than the 'changing of the guard'. And folks, there is nothing more to see here, just move on.
Put your head back into the sand, we would never mislead you, move on.
Even though 'parties' are no longer relevant or legitimate, it should be known that 90% of those polled who believe thay are party livestock want the IRS investigated and prosecuted. 63% "Democrats", even though I hate to legitimize and perpetuate either of these crap parties....
The problem of the IRS targeting certain groups for political reasons is wrong. No one but a mindless liberal would argue otherwise. The problem is much larger than that. The problem is the very existence of the IRS. The tax code is so far out of hand that it can not be reformed by reasonable people. The code itself should be burned wholesale and replaced with an easy, fair system that doesn't need all the bureaucracy to attempt to manage the unmanageable.
From the type of questions and information requested - it appears to me that this process accomplished two things...first, delay and frustrate organization of certain groups that could have had a negative effect on the reelection of BO. The other, being a method of collecting data to support development of a social and organization network link analysis (which has far reaching and dangerous implications as to its future use - which provides the ability to track and quickly target certain key groups and individuals for retribution or even preemptive actions)
Yep. To hear you guys, the republicans are to blame for everything. The democrats do nothing wrong. If you would take your rose colored glasses off for just a short time, maybe you could see that both sides are actually to blame.
You're right, Kathy of Glendale, AZ – it is a witch hunt.... Of conservative groups! The evidence is overwhelming. What in the world is the IRS commissioner doing visiting the Pres 157 times, more than twice as often as any cabinet official?
It's an outrage, and a coverup. It's the worst kind of Banana Republic witch hunt. Reprehensible. It's time to consider a flat tax and abolishing the IRS. In fact, not consider, just have a flat tax and abolish the IRS.
@Kathy – the fact that you, as an ex – IRS employee, refer to people with political views different than your own as "stupid, conspiracy nuts GOP" is evidence of the biased corupt culture of the IRS.
@ Kathy, Glendale, Az (former IRS employee for 32 years): Kathy's said, "...the stupid, conspiracy nuts GOP". Yep, that sounds like the liberal, leftist IRS culture and underlying mode of thinking that most Americans are now witnessing and had to endure for years.
The IRS apologized for its wrong doing. Now is the time to investigate. We (most) want the truth.
When the government investigated my company, armed agents showed up with no warning. Computers and file cabinets were carted off.
Whoever decided to allow the IRS time to cleanse their files should be arrested today.
The first thing the IRS said about this scandal is that they WERE targeting conservative groups and that they were SORRY for it, Kathy. This isn't tinfoil hat stuff. Geez, it was even the IRS itself that broke the story on this scandal. Conspiracy nuts? Any objective observer can see that there was/is major wrongdoing going on at the IRS.
Why do we bother even having leaders when none of them take responsibility for anything that happens? Democrats avoid responsibility like its the plague. The IRS commissioner visited the White House 157 times. This targeting came from the top and Obama is a liar when he claims he just found out about it. I would bet money he was involved with cooking up this plan in the first place.
Kathy, the moment you said "as a former IRS employee", I knew to tune you out. The IRS needs to be completely abolished. We have no need, whatsoever, for the IRS. In this age with technology what it is, the states alone are perfectly capable of collecting taxes and distributing their state contributions to the federal government, as was done before the IRS was created, but more efficiently now, due to modern technology. The IRS is too powerful, and dangerous, and it is CLEAR that liberal employees, at the direction of the White House, used the power of the IRS to target conservatives.
"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 would say you are (or were) a big part of the problem. My guess is you don't like the stupid GOP and didn't when you worked for the IRS! At least you are now retired! One problem solved!
"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"
Really? If this was a republican administration who used the IRS to target left leaning groups in an election cycle you would be all good with that, right? I think not not.
This is abuse of power plain and simple. It doesn't matter which party is in power it's wrong and it's a crime. This came down from senior IRS officials as policy. It's not just a few over zealous low level workers like they are trying to spin.
So lets all just forget about the whole thing. Nothing to see here form ours friends on the left and thats what may happen.
As I offen tell my liberal friends just wait until your beloved all powerful federal government makes you do something you don't like and see what happens.
Kathy–if this is all a "witch hunt" by Republican conspiracy nuts, why did Lois Lerner take the 5th and the IRS already apologize?
The IRS ‘missed the deadline’ because they need more time to destroy the evidence.