CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
2 years 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. camaro guy

    Anyone who has ever sat through an IRS audit knows how much anxiety and anger is caused by the event...In the future, people sitting through audits will naturally associate US Senators and the White House persecuting their political beliefs, no matter what party affiliation they do or do not have.

    June 18, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Joe

    Issa has nothing. That's why he won't release the transcripts.

    Another non-story.

    June 18, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Belletuin

    No one should be tax exempt. Bad idea all around.

    June 18, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  4. Thinkergal

    I am loyal to President Obama, but not "blindly" so. I have given careful consideration to this matter as well as the myriad of problems and issues with which he has to deal. He is still the most competent person for the job at this time. He also shines in comparison to the previous occupant of the office.

    June 18, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. busseja

    It is hard to believe anyone would think Obama himself wasn't behind this. With a wink and nod if nothing more.

    June 18, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. John

    cb – if you need a license to get a job and you take the test and they do not tell you if you passed until another person gets the job is that OK?

    June 18, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. time2wakeup

    Q: How are O'bama and Socialism alike?

    A: Neither one of them has ever really worked.

    June 18, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  8. Just_One

    Henry II did not kill Thomas Becket, he just asked if anyone would rid him of this turbulent Priest. Someone did.

    June 18, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. TheWheelsFallOff

    Of course the IRS bias against the right originated in the White House. Obozo didn't actually have to CALL them up, he was spewing his disdain and hate from the bully pulpit – anyone and everyone who disagrees with him is "wrong", "unamerican", "shameful", etc. etc. He does nothing but demonize opponents and incite division based on class, gender and political party. It's his biggest success. The IRS followed his lead – a few questioning letters sent by top Dems, and away they went with full blown targeting. Only polical neophytes believe there is no connection.

    June 18, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. BC

    This whole his is laughable... These so called conservative grups deserved to be looked at as they were popping up like weeds all over the place.. I don't recall the left screaming about the IRS intrsions into various other human or civil rights groups over the years... more partisan crap.... do some real work , on the budget, roads, jobs, and immigration instead of holding a hearing every other week on bs, just for political leverage..smh

    June 18, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  11. weeone

    and the other half, are brain dead!

    June 18, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  12. Al

    Considering the results of the 2010 elections, Obama could not chance the fact that more Conservative Political Groups were going to start up and getting the word out about the events that were taking place. So to protect his bonuses not to mention his comfortable tax payer funded job, he could have mentioned it in the hallway, "would it not be great to have the IRS, who works for Obama slow the approval process of tax-exempt status for the Conservatives". Not saying that it happened, but then again Fast and Furious didn't happen, or it was covered up with a letter. There are many things that the highest paid liar was told to say all to protect his boss, and not the country or the people who just happen to pay his overpaid salary. This was in no way just a group of employees, this has the oder of top brass monkeys giving the orders to stall and diverte. And now that the elections are behind they fact that was known some months before the elections are being let out, this is the most transparent President yet, at least that is what this President said it was going to be, but has failed to produce. The truth is not coming from those in the White House nor the media that only let's out a little here and there and is not doing any real digging into the story to let the people know what really is taking place within this transparent administration. This is not a matter of national security, but it will make the history and what the people will remember about this administration when the truth is allowed to be displayed, and the people want the truth, not a money on a stick telling the packs lies.

    June 18, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Steve in MA

    The fact is, there is no wrongdoing in the IRS targeting political groups of any political persuasion who have filed for 501(c)(4) social welfare club status. It is illegal for a political organization to apply for such status. You have to be the Sierra Club, concerned about trees, or the Audubon Society, concerned about birds, to apply for that status. You cannot be a conservative, liberal, libertarian, fascist, socialist or any other type/kind of POLIITICAL organization. If you are a political organization, you must apply for exempt status under 527, which carries limits and disclosure requirements not applicable to 501(c)(4) organizations. This is an entirely contrived controversy, and the majority of Americans are just too ignorant or stupid to understand it.

    June 18, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Funny how there is a string of posts on here with different names but all referencing Valerie & Axelrod as the culprits behind this "scandal". Do you suppose the posts are all from the same person????

    June 18, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. anon

    Of course. Obama is worse than Nixon. He's a liar and a criminal. Eric Holder should be tried for TREASON for Fast and Furious.

    June 18, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. weve benhad

    just alittle more HOPE and CHANGE... you asked for it – now youre getting it!

    June 18, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. Geekoid

    SInce this would gain the White House exactly nothing, why in the world would anyone there order it? It's stupid to even consider without actual evidence. What happened is pretty simple, but too many poeple are just looking for any excuse to blame Obama for anything. There was a sharp influx in a type of N4P. Many of those people submitting for a new N4P status where also seen campiaghining for a specific candidate, a violation of the type of N4P being applied for, so they toolk a hard look. Frankly, this is a good use of time REGARDLESS of which party happened to fall under scrutiny. If it had been a sharp increase in 'liberal' N4P and those same group had been seen campahning for a democrat. I would want the IRS to take a harder look at thoe groups.

    June 18, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Geekoid

    Also, no one was denied, they where just scrutinzed to be sure the were wihtin the rule, but I guess playing within the rules makes Pubs angry when ti does go with what they want.

    June 18, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Ernie zippreplat

    Obama without a doubt ordered this, who do you think you are kidding. He is guilty as heck!

    June 18, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. BinFL

    @Derrick – Of course it leads to the white house. This man cheated by hiding the truth and lying and the DNC cheated at the polls on election day in order to achieve a razor thin victory. Obama is a fraud.
    _________________________________
    Over 5 million votes margin and 51% to 47% is not razor thin. When will you people get over the fact that President Obama was the best candidate in both 2008 & 2012. Please also explain how "targeting" Tea Party political groups would suppress them from voting. If anyone tried to suppress the Tea Party influence it would be the GOP establishment as they know the Tea Party is hurting them big time!

    June 18, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. dave

    When all the facts come out, I bet there will still be some (mostly blind with bias) that will state the W.H. had nothing to do with the IRS targeting conservative groups. The evidence is becoming stronger that the W H wanted to see more scrutiny. Even if they did not formally (i.e. in writing/email) direct it, it appears this is what was wanted, and thus if you want good reviews/advancement opportunities, this would be a good move.

    June 18, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. Jim Charlotte

    Of course some people will believe there is a connection even though there is zero evidence. These are the same people that believe the earth is only 6,000 years old and that there is an invisible flying sky fairy peeping on everyone in their bedroom. Reality has never been a factor in what they believe.

    June 18, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. freedom

    @JJ
    You speak the truth. And that's just the tip of the iceberg -

    June 18, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. California Gary

    Too many on this blog are listening to Issa and the Fox News blowhards instead of paying attention to what the actual testimony said. No link to the White House on this one.......that's what the testimony tells us. Get over it.

    June 18, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. RandyKC

    This is why Issa and the other low-information Representatives put on their shows.

    June 18, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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