CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
9 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. Michele

    Isn't the problem that CNN's top headline suggests it actually DID come from the White House rather than that people believe it did? People believe a lot of crap that just isn't true. And fundamentally, the IRS is SUPPOSED to make sure that political groups don't get tax exempt status. So it's actually good that they targeted groups with obviously political names for further investigation. Non-tea-party political groups were also targeted when they sounded political in nature. That's also good. We should all be happy that political groups are prevented from tax-exempt status.

    June 18, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  2. SlackMeyer

    As my daughter would say, "Well, SHUH!"

    June 18, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  3. tif

    LOL..of course you idiots think the Prez was involved. He acts just like Nixon...Now back to the real story...Congress is not doing their job...HELLO!!!

    June 18, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  4. kamarasune

    This is what we've come to for turning a blind eye every-time government felt the need to subverted the constitution....

    June 18, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  5. Jeff G

    Is it really breaking news? I mean...the poll results, did they really take it at 6 am?

    June 18, 2013 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  6. Neil

    This is not news. This is a poll on what people think without any actual evidence.

    June 18, 2013 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  7. ned

    Are these complainers the same ones that don't mind racial profiling?

    June 18, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  8. steve

    Can we please go back to why in god's name the GOP controlled house can not get anything done what so ever. And if they our Sooooo outrage then why did the Republicns sign onto NAFTA knowing it would cripple the USA and the Middle Class.

    June 18, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  9. Concerned

    Oh what a bunch of hooey!

    June 18, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  10. mainepotter

    What people believe and the facts can be two different things. Know the difference? The GOP thrives on worst case speculation masked as truth. Let's get the whole story first before the trolls begin their daily rants.

    June 18, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  11. Me

    CNN – You have lost all credibility. And I've spent my time here defending you.

    You post, as news, public opinion? YOUR JOB is to find the TRUTH, regardless of public opinion. You are instigating fear. You are cowards, hiding behind a company. Shame on you.

    You profit off of scandal. And when the scandals fall, you create them. Shame on you.

    June 18, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  12. michael

    Are we claiming to be the fair and balanced news organization? Look at your headline..and then the story indicates there remains a minority that believe that higher up orchestrated this..less than the number who don't hold that you really believe your headline and drama accurately reflects the fact that more people still believe this is limited to the IRS leadership?

    June 18, 2013 06:13 am at 6:13 am |
  13. Chris

    Of course there isn't a single shred of proof that the White House was involved in the targeting. But that seems besides the point.

    June 18, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  14. Abrondon

    When the head of the IRS visits the White House hundreds of times concurrent with the targeting, then claims he can't remember what any of the visits were for other than the Easter Egg Hunt, some level of suspicion is warranted.

    June 18, 2013 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
  15. bob

    Took a tax class in the late 70's. Remember being told that any new business or organization could expect to be audited within a few years. The auditing was intended to make sure they were following the IRS regulations created by our elected representatives.

    June 18, 2013 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  16. Hazard

    There is no doubt that every White House sets Administration Policy, including the tone of its politics. It was obvious from day one of the IRS targeting story that the IRS officials were pursuing the ultimate goal of the Obama team in helping to defeat Obama's opposition. Whether or not a high White House Official actually told the IRS Officials what to do is really not the issue, albeit important; what matters are the policies set by the President.

    June 18, 2013 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  17. Ed

    We are supposed to believe that this all knowing NSA surveillance, which can troll through every bit of information and come up with patterns and predictions, can't figure out who started this mess? Why not use some different key words. If it is such a great system, why don't we use it? Focus all of that energy on the IRS and it will spit out an answer. But wait, that would be self defeating wouldn't it? Using the system our government created to monitor our every communication to keep the government itself in check. The very same people who created the system to monitor us don't want it to monitor them. All political communications by congress is exempt from monitoring. That is a fact that has been admitted to.

    June 18, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  18. Richard Conn Henry

    Yet there is NO evidence whatsoever that the White House was involved. That should be the first line of a news report on a poll that shows up widespread ignorance.

    June 18, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  19. michael

    ...I am referring the headline on the home page that leaps out at you....

    June 18, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  20. wally2.0

    A growing number of Americans are also iDiots. Investigate the claims for sure, but they'll never find anything. Why do political groups even get tax exempt status when almost no one agrees that they should? Tax exempt status should be taken away from all political groups followed by some other groups.

    June 18, 2013 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  21. Michael

    So what? Too many of these "not for profit" organizations rake in OBSCENE profits and don't pay penny one in taxes. Any organization that has millions or billions in pure profits cannot claim to be "non-profit". These organizations are part of what as led to elections in the US being even more brazenly bought. The middle or little man no longer is a player ... it's only the Big Boys ... and I can guarantee you that their ideas for the direction the country needs to go do not mesh with mine.

    June 18, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  22. The Winning Team

    Come on and defend Obama! You are on the winning team! You got Obama in the white house doing the same stuff that W did, but now it's your man doing the wrong. Oh it feels so good to WIN!

    My point is that BOTH sides are just as bad. When are you libs going to wake up and admit this? I am disappointed in you liberals, you are suppose to be the "smart ones" that aren't conned like the so called dumb republican rednecks were with W. . I think those "dumb rednecks" woke up to W faster than you have woken up to Obama.


    June 18, 2013 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  23. LibtardFantasy

    Of course the White House knew. Now who is going to jail?

    June 18, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  24. fred

    Power corrupts and complete power completely corrupts... Lord Acton

    June 18, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  25. Tom

    Who cares,it needed to be done to keep these folks from getrting a free ride

    June 18, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
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