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. paineintheneck

    Unfortunately, nearly half the country are tribal, true believers who have been brainwashed to Doublethink that Dear Leader is omniscient when it comes to healthcare, the auto industry, the energy industry, the financial industry, etc., etc. but at the same time he has no knowledge of what goes on at the IRS, State Dept., DOJ, EPA and all of the other departments that report directly to him. They are able to simultaneously believe both that the federal government can meet every need, dry every tear and solve every problem and also that it is so big that not even a messiah can be expected to manage it.

    June 18, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. lakia

    It takes a lot more suspension of belief to think the White House was not directing this from start to finish. Or an IQ if 12.

    June 18, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. MNfree

    If Watergate was a big deal, how on earth is this not? This isn't going away because the administration keeps pushing back from the facts. The more they do, the more curious people are going to get.

    June 18, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. JjkName

    This result is typical of confirmation bias fed by slanted media reports and a poll with a clearly leading question. There has been NO evidence presented that supports the possibility of WH onvolvement or direction but hey why bother to mention that FACT. And why bother to mention that the manager directly in charge of the IRS agents involved is a REPUBLICAN.
    Very sad to see how CNN is skewing it's reporting to reflect a negative right wing point of view to attract more viewers. Pretty soon we'll be seeing commentators and panelists reflecting all the profound ignorance that is infecting this country like climate change denials or evolution denials or a woman's right to choose eliminators. Way to go CNN

    June 18, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. HelenW

    Why wonder? If all our emails and communications are being monitored and warehoused, let's see if it's true. Hand it over Valerie.

    June 18, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Floyd from Illinois

    No matter the COMPLETE LACK OF EVIDENCE linking the White House to the IRS targeting, more and more Americans seem to think there is some such link.

    Proof yet again that if Republican monkeys seeking attention throw enough feces at the zoo patrons, the zoo patrons will start to like it.

    June 18, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  7. Chad Lane

    I can tell by reading the comments on here that the Republicans have a good strategy right now. Flood the any media outlets with negative reviews on the Obama administration. Why is this a good strategy? Because in the past, fellow democrats were the majority of responses on here and other left leaning or centrist websites that allowed comments to political news. Now, with the massive flooding of negative posts by the republicans, it makes it seem to readers that all of a sudden everyone is against Obama. Makes Independents really question the issues. It's all a bunch of BS spewing from the right wingers out to destroy this administration for a better chance at winning next time, but it's a good strategy nonetheless.

    June 18, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  8. Be Reasonable

    Wow, going after tax cheats is now a bad thing. Such a world we live in.

    June 18, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. born in kenya

    You have to ask what are the other 47% thinking?

    June 18, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. scarf

    When this news story first broke, I said that if it led to Obama, he should be impeached. I'm still waiting for the evidence that this was anything more than a case of bad midlevel management. Even Issa admits that all he has is a gut feeling that Obama is involved. Carry on with a responsible investigation and either prosecute any lawbreakers or exonerate those who have been unjustifiably accused.

    June 18, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  11. recalcitraint.patriot

    Everyone of these "scandals" CRIMES goes directly to Obama (the Don) but don't bother looking for a paper trail spelling it out for you! These are just the crimes that are sooo over the top that they actually made it to the whore media. There are dozens of more crimes that date back decades involving other administrations that serve the same new world order master.

    June 18, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  12. jpmichigan

    The President never has, nor will he take ownership of any situation . He allows ownership fallow on others and those persons, for what ever reason , allow that to happen. Presidents ideology, causes many of these situations to occur. He is definitely a lame-duck President. But as always, the truth eventually will come out and persons connected with these scandals will also eventually tell the REAL truth. The chip will then fall on the REAL people who profited by these procedures.

    June 18, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  13. Thomas

    Just in, White House ordered milk shakes for staff !

    Issa needs to get to the bottom of this ASAP !

    June 18, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. Lee

    Of course the savvy political operators in charge of something as hugely important as a presidential political operation would build into a project such as this IRS persecution of conservatives numerous layers of plausible deniability for the person at the very top – the president. All of their jobs depend on him, so he has to be protected at all costs. Nothing can be allowed to possibly be traced to him or to any of his underlings. But this IRS persecution of conservatives – with its attendant suppression of their anti-Obama political activities – was done for him, it benefited him, and the early claims that it was a few rogue low-level agents in Cincinnati has been disproved. It is Benghazi all over again: Malfeasance in Hussein Obama's administration, followed by lies to cover it up.

    June 18, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Eric

    I doubt the WH ever directly ordered the illegal acts, but I suspect they nudged it as hard as they could to make it happen.

    June 18, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. Ragnarb

    I have had issues with taxes in the past: way before obama, and crew. There were a few agents that started to get heavy handed and would not listen; but I would say bye, and call back and get another agent. They have always been straightforward with me, and helped me resolve my issues.They were also very gracious in their explanations and clear in what the issue may be. It's the IRS folks, the most highly detailed department of the bureaucracy. To say that before obama it was poorly run, and sloppy is the same childish rant as 'it was Bush's fault'. While I'm not a fan of the IRS and our taxing system, they have a very complicated job to do and handle it well. Their job is clearly defined, and any deviation from it has to come from someone higher up, or from some outside the org. Look at the questions they were told to ask. They were not normal; they were lawyer constructed, and clearly political in nature; nothing a standard agent would even ask, or consider. This scandal goes right to the top of the leadership of our nation. It is disgraceful and embarrassing. Millions of young men have died to prevent this, and frankly, I consider it criminal, possibly treasonous. Couple this with the knowledge that we are being spied on by our own government, we see a dictatorial government. Unfortunately we have a congress too duplicitous, and frightened, to stop it.

    June 18, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  17. Will


    It is fortunate that independents are so brainless and easily swayed by CNN comments. I wonder, is this how Obama won the election in the first place?

    June 18, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  18. Zeke

    Look how fast the Truth becomes "a good strategy" with the left. I couldn't be a liberal because I couldn't live with the lies I'd have to tell myself day after day. Insane.

    June 18, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. Diogenes

    There are those that still believe Nixon was innocent. Unless Oblamer-mouth resigns, we are stuck.

    June 18, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  20. jaycee

    judge judy would say, if it makes sense, it is probably true, which says the postus is dirty.
    Get ready, this place is headed for third world status.

    June 18, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  21. Edwin

    The GOP plan of attacking Obama is finally paying off. Based on no evidence but a lot of media attention, Americans are starting to distrust Obama.

    It must feel good to be a republican right now - no ideas for fixing the economy, but their four year plan to discredit Obama is actually working. If only they had invested that much energy into helping the country instead of focusing it into dividing it - imagine where we might be right now.

    Of course, their ultimate goal is to take the presidency from the democrats in 2016, and making Americans dislike Obama is a good start. After all, if people sour to Obama, they will sour to his party - making it possible for the GOP to actually have a shot even if they pick an extremist as their nominee.

    June 18, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  22. Andi

    It is a total LIE that the White House ordered targeting the Tea Party.

    June 18, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  23. Bob

    Where is the evidence?

    There is none.

    This is Spinghazi all over again.

    June 18, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. wizzard

    It would certainly help dispel the notion of political ends to this if the list of key-words the IRS used to categorize the flood of liberal groups applying for exemption was published. Unfortunately I don't beleive such a list exists. It is in this that the political implication of the issue is strengthened. There is no reason for the IRS to apply the profiling unevenly unless directed to do so by a political body.

    June 18, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  25. Bob

    And the evidence of these wild accusations?

    Oh that's right, there is no evidence.

    June 18, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
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