CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year 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. Right Winger?

    For those of you who think the right wingers are hunting only to Obama to blame for this IRS scandal, I want to ask you who else has the motive to do the harm the IRS did? This is a Nixonian issue, pure and simple. Either it was ordered by the WH directly or someone doing it for the WH. Its all about motive and who will benefit. The quicker the WH supporters and advocates quit backing this regime and recognize the wrong doings, the better off the left will be in the long run. Ultimatley, the garbage the Obama administration is putting on this country, the more license the right will have later to put the same garbage back out. The left will whine, but it will be what it will be. Correct the wrong doing now before you reap what you sow...

    June 18, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. John Geheran

    Over 150 visits to the WH by then IRS Director. Until the agenda for this inordinate number of visits is known, making any assumptions will be speculation. That said, if the WH continues to stonewall the issue, Obama's second term will have come and gone. Me thinks this administration will make "Slick Williy's" shenanigans look benign.

    June 18, 2013 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  3. Seriously

    I'll bet the low information voters who participated in this poll believe that Obama is responsible for the Florida HUD offices closing as well.

    June 18, 2013 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. shish

    Is the Pope Catholic? Duh of course this has the fingerprints of those 1600 Penn Ave slime bags all over it. Every level that Barry has risen through he has used the crooked Chicago thuggery to get his way. He did it right from his first election where he had a crooked judge unseal the person's divorce papers. He is a common criminal who needs to be IMPEACHED and tried for Treason

    June 18, 2013 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  5. Annie

    Well for those who want to see, the transcripts were released & it was a conservative republican who ordered the probe.

    June 18, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. Jackie

    Well the WMD fake story worked very well and allowed the illegal invasion of Iraq and the death of 4,000 soldiers so the Grand Theft Auto/Arsonist Rep. Issa felt the people would believe this lie and he was correct. If it's not broke don't fix it and fooling the American people is easy for the Republicans and Tea Party. Just think all the fuss about Obama's birth certificate which was released by the State, while Mitt Romney released his birth certificate that had the age of his Mother wrong and not one person or reporter dare question that error. Facts don't seem to matter as people seem to go blindly and end up with egg on their face.

    June 18, 2013 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  7. just wondering

    to bad rep cummings has released the entire transcripts issa used to prove obama and washington was involved in this.... As usual it was just another made up scam used by the repuglicons to play political games... so much for the party of family values.... and morals... more like the party of corrupt, lying, scumbag, and conmen..... remember Americas future is at stake in 2014 vote anyone other than Repuglicon if you care about America and its people

    June 18, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  8. linda w

    The PRESIDENT has been bashing conservatives and Christians since he was elected in 2008 and has continued to do so since being re- elected in 2012.Why shouldn't people believe he is behind the IRS scandal.It sounds logical to me that he would use his powers as President to continue to do so.Some people just don't want to see what is right in front of their eyes,THE TRUTH.May GOD bless the weak minded non believers.

    June 18, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  9. sharkusg

    Do I think Obama ordered it? No. Do I think Obama bears responsibility for it? Absolutely.

    June 18, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  10. sharkusg

    Do I think the President ordered it? Of course not. Do I think the President bears responsibility for it? Absolutely.

    June 18, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  11. Fish

    The President doesn't care for this crud he has a world of junk with which to deal he cares nothing about Foxnut fabricated scareware generated by the rabid right oracles of fantasy land!!!

    June 18, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. mike

    wait and see spectacular fall of obama and democRat's party….fascinating and well deserved

    June 18, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  13. CC

    No proof,just another dumb poll, beginning to sound like Faux News.

    June 18, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  14. sonia santiago

    get real Im so tired of this nonsense that is going to backfire on the nuts once again whenBush was president MY CHRUCH ABLYED FOR 501CK AND WE HAD TO WATCH HOW WE WORDED the application we could not say that we are penticostel because we would not be approved because the only religion that the gov acknowlege was the catholic churc...

    June 18, 2013 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  15. Big Al

    Who cares? This was against conservatives, the right wingers, teabaggers. Who cares? Wasn't against people at CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC. Wasn't against progressives or liberals. It was against the folks everyone makes fun of, tell jokes about, satirize, etc. Treating "Them" unfairly is a good thing. Now we have a clue why Rmney's taxes became more important than the creation of jobs. Listening to our telephone conversations and reading our emails, that's alright, too. If they can't get enough information by doing those two things, why not allow them to put cameras in our homes.

    June 18, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  16. TBaker

    These same people probably believe the earth is flat.

    June 18, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  17. PolPit

    It's interesting to see how many libs come out of the closet and slam right-wingers on the slightest pretense. I'm neither. I'm just an observer but I DO believe the IRS would target groups if they had a reason. Apparently they had a reason and I'd like real answers to what those reasons are. No organization should ever be targeted by a government entity for no reason.

    June 18, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  18. RDH

    Polls are a bunch of bravo seirra. I have never been polled and nobody I know has either.

    June 18, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. WeAreInTrouble

    Wait until you have been watching politics for 50 years, then it becomes quite obvious what is going on. Frankly you have to be blind not to put the pieces together. It's not about us vs. them, it's about Government vs. The People. They have us hating each other and you all eat it up hook line and anvil. It's time DC had a good house cleaning. Lets take back our country. Afraid of a little work?

    June 18, 2013 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  20. steve

    It was 00superfly, the obamas, and his cabinet, No debate just check his email and phone records via NSA.

    June 18, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  21. JPM77

    I'm not a Republican, and am an ex-Democrat now Independent. But I think it's clear neither the Administration nor IRS leadership can be trusted blindly here, especially given the aggravating changing stories they've been concocting.

    I would hope the White House did not directly order this as political retribution against people he's described as his enemies in the past, and I will hold that hope until there is proof otherwise.

    But...

    They can not be trusted. It's very clear we need an independent special prosecutor empowered to seek the truth in this matter. Let the chips fall where they may after that.

    If nothing surfaces after the clarifying light of day shines in on this mess linking the White House to the actions of the IRS, then good.

    But if it does, we the American people need to know.

    June 18, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  22. NYNJCT

    Yes, I strongly believed that Owebama ordered it. What is proof? The chief of IRS had visited 157 times the White House.

    June 18, 2013 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  23. Jim Ward

    Benghazi: Independent, bipartisan investigation and report finds no "stand down" and that, indeed, every effort was made to respond to the attacks. 100 of the attacking militants were killed by our responding forces, the bodies of our 4 dead were secured, and 32 Americans were safely rescued and evacuated. GOP caught falsifying emails but no White House scandal.

    AP & NSA: All related to the Patriot Act conceived by and signed into law by a Republican Administration. Important national security and civil liberties debate. Not a White House Scandal.

    IRS: The independent inspector general, a Republican appointee and former prosecutor, and Congressional testimony finds no link to White House and reports that the flagging of organizations for heightened scrutiny was not the product of partisan bias. Investigation reveals that targeting was initiated by a self-described "conservative Republican" supervised by a Republican appointee at the time the IRS was run by a Republican appointee. No White House scandal.

    Fast and Furious: The inspector general, a former federal prosecutor, found no link to the White House or the Attorney General. Even GOP Rep. Chaffetz complimented him for his "tenacity" and Issa himself called him "courageous." The IG investigation and report "shows definitively that the Arizona ATF agents and prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office there were responsible for the operation, not the White House or Justice Department in Washington and the primary source of the inaccurate testimony given to Congress was the U.S. Attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke." Again, no White House scandal.

    Solyndra: Perhaps the phoniest faux scandal of all, Solyndra was a solar energy company that went under after receiving federal funds. It's a twofer, in that Republicans can try and trash the White House and alternative energy all at once. Solyndra, as it turns out was funded by a loan program started by the Bush Administration and their application was originally pushed by Bush officials. The company's failure was a result of a dramatic collapse in the price of solar panels. Clearly, No White House scandal.

    What else? He's a Muslim? He's a Commie? Donald Trump's birther nonsense? As they say, there's just no "there" there.

    Republicans should heed the advice of their own Bob Dole who suggests the GOP should hang up a "Closed for Business" sign until they can come up with a positive agenda for governing this great Nation.

    June 19, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  24. Dan H

    There is no doubt in my mind he ordered them. Why hasn't someone been fired? Why does Ohio seem to standout? Because the President was afraid of loosing it from the very beginning.

    June 19, 2013 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  25. Dot

    Democrats say poor management at the tax agency, rather than political bias, is to blame. just like A dem. to put the blame on someone else ! it amazes me how libs trust and bow down to the goverment like its A god its scary to me, they think the goverment is looking out for them. The goverment never does anything wrong how dumb can ya get!!

    June 19, 2013 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
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