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. bobo

    This goes right up to Obama Himself! People are just afraid of never working again in politics, so they don't Rat him out..... Yet.

    June 18, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. duh

    Obuma is hot on the trail of the perpetrators.........just like he's searching for the people responsible for "Fast and Furious" and Benghazi.'s a clue. They're not on the golf course.

    June 18, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. Jaimie

    Yes, they have.

    June 18, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Matt

    I'm relatively conservative and I'm not sure this is a White House scandal, in that I don't know that the White House in any manner told the IRS to target it's political opponents during an election. But before that becomes cover for the left, I think this position might be more damaging to the left than if I did. Because if the White House specifically ordered the IRS to target people, that means the White House is rotten, but it doesn't implicate government. Without marching orders, this scandal becomes an endorsement of the right's position that government must be limited because it simply cannot be trusted. It will abuse it's power, and it's a matter of when, not if.

    The reality is that this scandal is damaging to the White House either because they were involved, or because their position of an effective and benevolent government was exposed as fallacy. Either way, it hurts.

    June 18, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. donna

    Without adequate information how could the public "think" anything about it?

    June 18, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. duh

    The evidence of involvement lies in the fact that there is not any outrage or anything being done about it.

    June 18, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. NameRolph

    This has become a country of political party over all. Tear down the President under any and all circumstance if he is not your party.
    Do not cooperate in any fashion for you will be seen as a traitor to your party. Damn the American people- Damn progress.
    The Repubs are farting against a hurricane.
    This country is changing. We are and always have been a nation of immigrants. Get over it!
    Change is good. Progress is good.
    We need a kumbaya moment here folks.
    We claim to be a Christian nation.
    Have we forgotten what that means?
    More time should be spent forwarding the interests of the American people and less time
    on pointing fingers at the opposite party

    June 18, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Concerned Educator, Mississippi

    When was this poll conducted and who was asked because I certainly did nit receive a call or see a poll online. Moreover, I'm so sick of people ready to pin a scandal against President Obama. We have testimony from IRS officials, who are conservative, by the way, that has said they acted alone. I just don't believe in attacking the integrity and character of person without knowing the facts and when their is no evidence. Get the heck over it!

    June 18, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. jharry

    49% are sheople. Don't ask their opinions anymore. They can't think, so their opinion doesn't matter.

    June 18, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  10. John Galt

    Quack! Look at the water run right off my feathered back.
    Quack! When I walk, my webbed feet stick out to the sides.
    Quack! Listen to me talk.
    Quack! Quack! Quack!
    Quack! Quack! Quack!

    You know what they say..."Where there is smoke there is fire!"

    June 18, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. DAC

    Rosa – are you serious? Do you have any, I mean ANY proof of the crap you spew?
    the IRS ADMITTED to targeting conservative groups.
    NO! they did not get their tax exempt status in the end. HUNDREDS are STILL waiting on tax exempt status, where liberal organizations received their tax exempt status MONTHS if not YEARS before conservative ones.
    Do some research OUTSIDE of Huffington Post, Media Matters or other left-wing zealot websites.

    June 18, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. Glen Mar

    In response to Rosa above: it doesn't matter that some groups may have been asking for tax exempt status undeservedly–this is not the way to go about policing who earns the status and who does not. There were plenty of left leaning groups that were awarded their tax exempt status, and quickly. The IRS cannot simply single out one side and not the other–or rather, they can't select who to investigate based on political leanings.

    There is specific testimony from Cincy that workers there were following orders from more senior IRS workers in DC. We all know this scandal did not originate in Ohio, despite WH claims.

    The comment about streamlining work does not hold water. If they were truly streamlining their work, then conservative AND liberal groups would have been selected for scrutiny. Also, the IRS would not be asking dozens of more questions than necessary (names of donors, political beliefs, aspirations of members to run for political office, etc.). That makes more work for the IRS, not less.

    Further, your comment about the tea party groups getting their status in the end is not accurate either. There are many of these groups that are still waiting for an answer from the IRS, years after their initial request.

    June 18, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  13. Buck Sargent

    Whether the orders were direct or indirect, that determination has yet to be made. But Obama certainly set the tone and created the opportunity for the IRS targeting to take place ... and it was done for political reasons. In the overall context of a culture of corruption that has recently permeated Washington D.C., there are still a lot of unanswered questions relating to far too many scandals. So much for the notion of transparency.

    June 18, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  14. VascoDeGama

    1/2 the people now believe the scandal goes all the way to the white house. the other half are trying to sell their Obamaphones for crack....

    June 18, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  15. Guido V.

    And the other 49% still believe the automobile is a fad & will never replace the horse,. And will continue to believe the most absurd rhetoric spewing out of the WH, as long as the government assistance keeps coming.

    June 18, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  16. LibEd

    Of course it came from the White House....

    IMO, anybody saying otherwise is politically covering, or just not being honest.

    June 18, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. Matt 2

    Uh, why doesn't CNN investigate whether there was a link rather than report what an uniformed populace simply feels about the situation as news.

    June 18, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  18. danny rose

    EVERYONE knows it goes to the white house. The only people who won't say it is the press.

    June 18, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  19. LibEd

    Of course it came from the White House....

    IMO, anybody saying otherwise is politically covering, or just not being honest .

    June 18, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  20. Gas_Passer

    You would be a fool if you didn't believe that Obama and Valerie Jarret instigated and cheered on the IRS to disenfranchise and harass the Tea Party of their political rights straight out the White House.

    June 18, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  21. LibEd

    Of course it came from the White House....

    IMO, anybody saying otherwise is politically covering, or just not being honest.

    June 18, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  22. Paul E. Raisley

    I like how CNN tries to spin this story by placating POTUS and his WH. If this were the mafia the Don, or Godfather would fall, so yes Barrack should be impeached. I'm sure there is no paper trail, he probably just told someone to have the IRS block the Teaparties, pro-Isreal, pro-life etc. applications for tax exempt status. Meanwhile he has the state department cover up Benghazi, and the DOJ spying on reporters, and the NSA spying on everyone else. This is what large government is, corrupt, Corrupt, CORRUPT!!!!

    June 18, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  23. Patrick

    CNN is lying through its teeth as usual. It was proven weeks ago that no investigation could have been originated in Cincinnatti. Several high level agents have testified that no rogue agents could have begun an independent investigation without permission from much higher up the chain of command. We should be focusing on Benghazi, where the POTUS left our citizens hanging in the wind, under attack for seven hours while we did nothing.

    June 18, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    DJ Reality

    The relentless GOP and Fox News attack is working and people are getting sucked in.

    Not really. But CNN and others would like you to believe this is what is happening. Without the faux outrage, CNN would have no viewers at all. True journalism in America is a thing of the past. Now we get the trumped up version, and work towards truth ... if we are lucky to get the truth - nothing but the truth - at all. That (I will admit) gets folks up in arms and suckered in. Not one of the supposed scandals has yet to reach the "little bit of truth" version. By the time actual truth is reached, the story will be so mixed up in mud that no one will believe it. This doesn't bode well for whomever becomes the next President of the United States, and thereafter. The media mold is set.

    And, yes. This is politics at its worst. It's just too bad that CNN fell for digging at the bottom of the barrel along with the rest of the Grand Old Party lobbyists.

    June 18, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  25. jmac

    There is a lot more to this story than just the IRS. I wish someone from the press would do an investigation into how the Social Security Administration was also manipulated (on orders from above) in the months leading up to the election to influence the outcome in the favor of the dear leader.

    June 18, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
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