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. Guest

    @Frank Landa – Obama announced on TV many times that the Tea Party was criminal and needed to be investigated

    You must have heard this on Faux news because President Obama has never said this. Name one time you actually heard the President say this on TV!! Bet you can't.

    June 18, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. wildcrzy

    Just can't fathom the idea that there is one Human Being on the face of the earth that believes a single word that comes out of Obama's mouth.

    June 18, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  3. sonny chapman

    Hey Guest, remember what Billy Joel said, "You should never argue with a crazy man,man,man..."

    June 18, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  4. Joi Gibson

    Well, by gosh, if you keep hammering away at the same thing sooner or later folks will begin to believe it – and this is a prime example. There has been NO evidence that the White House had anything to do with this and yet all we keep hearing is the GOP talking points – parroted by the so-called media. The media is about as useless as Darrell Issa. Those transcripts need to be released right quick and in a hurry. Shout out to FL Independent.

    June 18, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. Namespace

    If you think the White House did not have direct involvement in the IRS targeting, then you are not paying attention to what is going on in America!

    June 18, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. RockInD

    How does a poll of what people think about a theory that is not supported by any facts become news? CNN is sinking fast.

    June 18, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. markfromdover

    any group claiming tax exempt status should be put through the wringer

    June 18, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. Louis Cypher

    Too bad they can't poll animals with their instinctive nature. Animal population would know 100% this leads to the White House.

    June 18, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. JJ

    Growing number of people also believe space aliens have taken over Congress.

    June 18, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  10. Double b

    Of course the GOP wants to keep this hot...they are so afraid of Hillary they are wetting their pants. There is not one shred of evidence that Obama or anyone in the WH would do something this stupid...this is Bush/Cheney/Nixon type crap.
    As far as the polls go...they reflect whatever conspiracy theories the media are pushing that week. This is another non story that will disappear eventually, just like Benghazi and the NSA privacy intrusions begun by...guess who...Cheney.

    June 18, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. doug mcduff

    My question is WHY is the Joker still in office? The LIBYA 2011 war was over the top, 1 BILLION + wasted...WHERE were the Anti-War folks during that year? Even Dennis Kucinich called for suing and IMPEACHING the Prez...but no coverage hardly at all. Says it all, in how brainwashed we are as Americans and how little we care about REALITY....5 major scandals and COUNTING> Wake up while you can!!!! D of KC

    June 18, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. CPOradio

    When the Google CEO gives the Obama campaign access to all user data. We have a creepy, insidiously campaign that demonized Americans as racists, extremists and dangerous for nothing more than wanting the rule of law followed, government excess reduced and keep promised transparency. The down playing of the unlawful acts of the IRS has already been proven to be orchestrated from DC.

    June 18, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Casey

    If I were a political strategist for the Democrats I would love the Tea Party, they split the conservative constituency. The right wing establishment sees them as a threat, so who has more motive?

    June 18, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  14. thomas 27

    Oh yeah, Rep Cumming'ss claims it was a conservative Republican who instigated the scrutiny... and it was Cummings who asked the DOJ to look into True the Vote.. and viola.. True the Vote has the FBI, IRS, ATF blasting away at them.
    All True the Vote wants to do is remove deceased persons names from the voting rolls, and eliminate names where 100 or so people are reigistered to a vacant warehouses or one home.
    Cumming" s claim that a Conservative Republican did the targetting and thus the WH is cleared is the stupidest illogical words out of his mouth.

    By that reasoning, the Dems who testified orders came from DC shows the WH was involved.
    Google Cummings and going after True the Vote.

    June 18, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. Joe Rockbottom

    Once again, despite all evidence to the contrary, the Republican method of telling lies all day, every day, has convinced Americans that the Repbulican lies are the real story, while the TRUTH is ignored.


    June 18, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. crimsoninok

    Obama, the best advertisement the GOP EVER got.

    June 18, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. Helen Whitcomb

    The Barack Hussein Soetoro Obama Administration is the MOST Corrupt, dishonest,and the most prolific LIARS searve throught, in the history of the USA. The Imposter in our White House should be made to pay for his lies and his abuse of power by 'taking' power he is NOT given by the Constitution. He and Nancy Pelosi should both serve time in jail for she is the only person who saw his paperwork and 'approved' in order fro him to become our Faux president. The only thing Barack Hussein Soetoro Obama is good at is LYING.

    June 18, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. richard

    NAACP vs Alabama.. started the 501c4 designation for tax exempt groups. 501c4w were created to protect the identity of donors to avoid harassment of those said donors. As we saw with the illegal disclosure of a conservative groups donars, that group was harassed and intimidated. Who does this benefit? Obama ..
    At least Nixon had the decency to resign. Obama has no decency.

    June 18, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  19. Jerry

    OBAMA's administration knew of this but tried to stay from being directly involved. They let their cronies do the dirty work and they cried "We knew nothing!!"..
    IRS should be totaly revsamped and downsized; make the tax code simpler and di away with all this mess...

    June 18, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Dean Magee

    Our nation is so dumb and lazy. Remember before the Boston bombing President Obama was after our right to bear arms! The bombing took Obama's strangle hold off the second amendment near death experience. Wake up America our president does not have our interests and must be impeached! Throw the race card in the trash! This guy is worse than President Nixon! Thank God For Snowden. THE American government is a one party system. when will we as a people rally and unify for justice that is long overdue? My answer is when it is too late...

    June 18, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. rob

    The Media is framing this whole issue as wheather the White House can be implicated in decisions regardeing who to investigate etc as if the whole "Sandal" revolves around the President being implicated by the Republicans. When we do find the people who are ultimately responcible, (it will never get to the President) the media will declare it a win for President Obama and then ignore the obvious Heinous crime of targeting American citizens for their political speech.

    There were people who did make these decisions and they should be prosecuted but it was Democrat senators and the President himself whose rhetoric contributed to the atmosphere of hatred and intimidation against the Tea Party and conservatives using the term "Teabaggers" to describe them. The media willfully went right along in demonizing these groups gleefully reporting the lies told by Dems like Nancy Pelosi anf the CBC painting the Tea Party as Racists and carrying Swastiks etc. It seems the amount of people who willingly accept all the lies and propaganda is dwindling fast. Lets hope mauture adults finally respond and vote this whole crowd out.

    Nov 2014 can't come fast enough.

    June 18, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. The REAL Truth...

    @Ratt – Over 500 Conservative Groups are suing the IRS, Holder and Obama. You Sir, are a Liar, or a Paid Hack. Which one is it ?
    Ask yourself the same question. The are only about 25 conservative groups suing ... it's amazing how the rights low information voters magically arrive at numbers like these. Never mind the facts... the INCONVENIENT TRUTH!

    In 2010, 1750 groups applied for 501c4 status.. Many were political and could easily have obtained the SAME tax-exempt status as political parties under section 527. But... and this is the real reason for the 501c4 status ... 527's are REQUIRED to DISCLOSE their DONORS!
    of the 1750, 300 (17%) were selected for additional investigation. Of those 300, 75 (25%) were conservative groups. ALL 300 received the same IRS letters. NONE were denied the status, except one. A progressive group.
    Only 4.2% of the total applications received were conservative groups given additional scrutiny because they had Tea or Patriot in their names. Big woo.. babies.
    NONE of these organizations should receive that status.. they are obviously political (as is my local TP org).
    Contact your DC representatives and DEMAND they change these rules. While you're at it, DEMAND they REPEAL FISA, NDAA, the Patriot Act, etc.
    PS: Don't hold you breath when they put you on hold!

    June 18, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Sandra

    I worked for the IRS for nearly 30 years and I can tell you that no one at that agency does things that they are not instructed to do. The higher up officials get their orders from Treasury and then pass them down the line. Since the only boss to the Sec'y of the Treasury is the President, that means that either the Secretary acted on his own or he passed down marching orders from above.

    June 18, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  24. Pete

    Republicans all went to the Joseph Goebbels school of propaganda and that is like Issa ,republicans if you feed enough ignorents in republicans,others lies eventually they start believing these lies as fact..Too bad democrates have more honor,cooth or all hell would break loose on Capital Hill!!Like a democratic politician once said we'll stop telling truths about republicans when the republicans stop telling lies about democrates,couldn't be more true than that right hypocrites!!

    June 18, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. The Other Bob

    frank landa

    NO KIDDING ! Obama announced on TV many times that the Tea Party was criminal and needed to be investigated. That was a direct order from the boss to the IRS to attack his political opponents
    Please cite even one instance of such a statement. BTW, the voices in your head don't count.

    June 18, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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