CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 months ago

CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?

Updated 8:01 a.m. ET, Tuesday, 6/18

Washington (CNN) – A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.

Republicans argue that the Obama administration used the IRS to intimidate and harass political opponents. Democrats say poor management at the tax agency, rather than political bias, is to blame. Congressional sources on both sides say that interviews with IRS workers so far have found no evidence of political dealings by the White House. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, touting an independent IRS inspector general report, has said the scrutiny appears to have originated with "IRS officials in Cincinnati," where the agency's tax exempt division is centered.

GOP tries to keep focus on IRS targeting scandal

Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own.

"Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold."

Fifty-one percent of those questioned said the IRS controversy is a very important issue to the nation, compared to 55% who felt that way in May. In the past week and a half, the IRS story has been put a bit on the backburner, as the controversy over the federal government's massive surveillance program has dominated the spotlight.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11-13, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report


Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • IRS • White House
soundoff (726 Responses)
  1. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    With out a doubt!

    June 18, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. Jay

    That anyone would still think the White House was not directing this is what I find incredible. If not the President himself, someone witnin the building is up in this to their waist. If the mainstream media ever decides to do their jobs,instead of being cheerleaders, the lid will come off on this and the other scandals. There is a John Dean there somewhere.

    June 18, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. Mike Jefferson

    I'm surprised that the poll found only 51% believed the WH was culpable. Then again 47% are WH drones on the take so that adds up correctly.

    June 18, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  4. Txman2013

    There is no doubt in my mind that this goes back to the 2012 Obama re-election team. They used IRS info to smear Rommney and to stop Republican groups through IRS intimidation. This goes straight to the top.

    June 18, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. 4mercy

    How the election was won. Chicago politics federally implemented.

    June 18, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  6. Yeah

    anything to do with politics Obama involved just like other scandals ,Benghazi , DOJ ,IRS ,NSA fast and furious they are STONEWALLED and Disrespect American peoples ,they are make us enemy list

    June 18, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. Kevin

    Obama promotes people that are a threat of ratting on him. Susan Rice, for example, got promoted to National Security Adviser and now is exempt from testifying against Obama through executive privilege.

    June 18, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. Rudy NYC

    This IRS "scandal" is so phony that it defies belief. Rep. Issa heard testimony behind closed doors that spelled out exactly where the order to "target conservatives" came from. It came from a manager, who is a registered Republican, looking for ways to expedite the applications of right wing groups. Questions were raised when groups had names and mission statements that sounded highly political.

    The first group to sue, NorCal Tea Party Patriots, has a disclaimer on the web site that says they don't "endorse" any political candidates, but they have posted "recommendations", and "voter guides" to be used by member patriots when they are in the voting booths. They advertise fund raisers that have political campaign donors as speakers. And they're complaining about being asked questions about their political activities?

    June 18, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  9. NealWV

    Is there really any doubt about where this targeting is coming from? They were targeting conservatives during the Bush admin. or liberal either for that matter. If they would have even in the slightest targeted a political opponent the press would have just blew up right there in their chair trying to get it out. Where as in this case they are only grudgingly reporting it at all. As if its a nonstory or something.

    June 18, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  10. Thebes

    Did White House order IRS goons to harrass political opponents?
    Do bears scat in the woods?

    June 18, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  11. ziggity

    Since when does the IRS need orders from the Prez to overstep their bounds?? They have always been a rogue organization and probably always will be!

    June 18, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. Dave

    Why is it so hard to believe that a Chicago politician would use the power of the IRS against his political enemies. This is a man who had his opponent's divorce records unsealed to win his senatorial election.

    June 18, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  13. Michael

    The only scandal is that most of these so-called social welfare groups are blatantly political and should not have received tax exempt status under any circumstances. Read the law which requires these groups to be operated exclusively for social welfare purposes, not mostly social welfare, in order to qualify for tax exempt status.

    June 18, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. Ancient Texan

    Who would benefit most from derailing the Tea Parties and Conservative election efforts? Obama, of course and he only had to let his wishes to be known... not in writing.

    June 18, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Marcus

    Of course it leads to the White House. Check Valerie Jarrett's email.

    June 18, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Morris65

    If it walks like a politician and it talks like a politician and it lies like a politician.....well, you know the drill!

    June 18, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  17. freedom

    It's all about control. And Hilary was part of it too – she will claim she wasn't, but this was going on while she was Sec of State – this whole administration is corrupt. That fact is being exposed more every day.

    June 18, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. Rob

    I believe it goes into the WH, but at the very least the president bears responsibility for the tone he has set with respect to his political opponents. It has just been disgusting to watch him. He even puts himself in the position to tell people what news outlets are legitimate and who they should listen to. Is that the job of a president? Do Obama supporters or the msm ever hold the guy responsible for anything? I can only compare him to an entitled, spoiled child encouraged in his bad behavior by his supporters unconditional support of him. And guess what? The kid just gets more entitled and more rotten. This presidency is a disaster through and through.

    June 18, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  19. JustAGuy

    Look at the end-game. Who did the IRS targeting benefit? None of these conservative 501c organizations could campaign on behalf of Romney. Now, who did the IRS targeting benefit? Right! Barack Obama!

    June 18, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. Mike Yeazel

    There’s no smoking gun no email no paper trail no text message no executive order no phone call just a nod and wink from our evil commander and chief.

    June 18, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. ConservativeBeaner

    I think the question that needs to be asked now is: "If you had known of the IRS scandal before the election, would that have changed your vote?".

    June 18, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. Theresa

    Of course this leads directly to Obama,
    Groups in Nevada were targeted, a group in Houston TX, King Street Patriots were also targeted. It's nationwide!
    It could only have happened on this scale if it originated with Obama!

    June 18, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  23. Bob

    The director of the IRS is a Bush appointed Republican who supported Romney. This has nothing to do with the White House. All that happened here is a few political organizations who were trying to get non-profit, tax-free, charity status, got extra scrutiny. The IRS was doing it's job.

    June 18, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  24. us_1776

    The problem is that a majority of young people do not have house phones that these pollsters call.

    So these polls end up very skewed.

    .

    June 18, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  25. Theresa

    It's silly to believe that "conservatives" inside the IRS would target conservative groups! That's anathema!
    It's obvious to anyone with a brain that the orders came from Obama and his Czars!
    And look at all the other scandals the White House is involved in, it's a gross abuse of power!

    June 18, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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