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. JJ

    Obama is the most radical, destructive and worst President in history. He is arrogant, a pot head, lazy (only works 10am to 4pm) incompetent, lawless, a fraud, never had a real job, aloof and a COMMUNIST. Obama and the Democrat party are continuing to destroy the great US economy. In four and a half years they have; deficit spent $6.9 trillion (most of any Pres.) with nothing to show for it, increased national debt to $16.9 trillion and counting, real unemployment rate of 18%, no job growth, 8.5 million lost jobs, 24 million underemployed, black/hispanic unemployment over 20%, they hate oil/coal industries, fossil fuels, military, private sector, success, constitution, right to bear arms, over 1,808 soldiers killed in Iraq/Afgn since Obama became Pres., one in five people in poverty (highest ever), pushed through Obamacare that was not wanted by majority of people and has already increased insurance rates 40%, is largest tax increase in history, will further destroy jobs and the economy and now costs $2.8 trillion, wasted billions of taxpayer funds on scam clean energy deals like Solyndra and Ener1 to campaign donors, foreign policy of cowardice and appeasement that has allowed at least two terrorist attacks, Benghazi and Boston, supports worst Ex Sec. of State in history, Hillary Clinton, who is responsible for the murder of Libyan ambassador and three staffers in Benghazi, supports worst AG in history Eric Holder, who is responsible for killing a border agent and the AP scandal, 50 million on food stamps and increased business killing govt regulation/employment more than any other Pres. Obama should be impeached.

    June 18, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Lizzie

    Joe Rockbottom, you have decribed the DEMOCRATS to a tee, but in your eyes they are the angels, NEVER telling a lie, always the truth, yet they have no clue what the truth is. Must be nice to have your head stuck in the sand and repeating over and over again, I believe what I'm told by the supreme leader.

    June 18, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Pam from Iowa

    I don't know.......did GW Bush order the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame be made public because he was disappointed her husband would not lie about yellowcake?

    June 18, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. CLMAZ

    What Carney reported about the IRS scandal starting in Ohio was debunked when PAZ, an IRS official in DC, came forward and stated that she was also involved in it. She had her excuses, of course, but she is a skin flap on the missing link between the White House and the IRS targeting of conservative groups. What I find very interesting, and eye-opening for many, is the fact that one IRS employee in DC, Hofacre, was reassigned to a different IRS position, just after this began in 2010, and was replaced by an "unknown" person, who then sat on more than 100 "Tea Party" applications for more than a year, awaiting instructions. WHO in any job in this country gets away with waiting for a year before hounding somebody to tell them what to do? You don't sit on your tush and let the seasons change. You go over heads if necessary, until somebody tells you what to do with regard to these "Tea Party" applicants. You do that UNLESS you've been given the order NOT TO QUESTION this matter. Finally, in Dec 2012, after the '10 and '12 elections, approximately 100 of the applications were approved. By then, it was too late for them to get funding to help beat the democrap campaigns for those two years. Now, if I were a suspicious sort, I'd say that "if it looks like a fish, smells like a fish, and swims like a fish" you might want to check for obama to be holding the fishing pole. Something is really starting to stink in this administration. The IRS, the DOJ, Benghazi, etc..... it's all looking very bad for those in high government positions.

    June 18, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. Goblin King

    Of course it was directed by the White House. This administration will do whatever it needs to do, to retain power.

    June 18, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. zeke z

    The White House Log shows that the head of the IRS visited the WH 159 times during Obama's first term. Coincidence? In previous administrations such visits were rare, usually only 15 times. Wake Up!

    June 18, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Bishop

    Then I guess you have proof?

    June 18, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Amvet

    Well then, we know where the other 50% have their heads!!!!!

    June 18, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. Lizzie

    The Real Truth...... and yet all those groups applying for Tax exempt status associated with the Obama administration, got approved in no time, including the group led by former WH council, knowning full well its political agenda.

    June 18, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  10. PW

    I guess I would ask all of the Obama supporters at this time if it actually were proven to be true that the White House was linked to this or the campaign to re-elect Obama was involved in this after the defeats in the 2010 elections, would you still defend Obama?

    I am very tired of this blind loyalty to Obama who is doing more than Bush ever did on spying with the NSA, and now the fact that they are also having this IRS scandal surprisingly happening when it best assists Obama's re-election that somehow this is all beyond reproach. Why the total dragnet for data? Why not just target potential terrorists and make the surveillance targeted? It isn't like they are actually succeeding with this type of surveillance as the Boston Marathon bombing still happened even when we were given a heads up by Russia. So what would the need for all of this data be for if not to target whoever you want, whenever you want to???

    June 18, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Sparky2

    The mainstream media knows that this IRS scandal leads right to the White House. And that is the reason they're not covering it anymore because they want it to go away since they got Obama elected and don't want to show the mess this guy's created. Look at Benghazi, Fast & Furious and more that the media has covered for him. They can only hide so much.

    June 18, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. cb


    The Real Truth...... and yet all those groups applying for Tax exempt status associated with the Obama administration, got approved in no time, including the group led by former WH council, knowning full well its political agenda.

    June 18, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |

    No, they did not. The only group to actually be denied was Emerge America, a Democratic group.

    June 18, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. Paul

    even though I run the risk of the NSA tracking these comments, anyone who thinks that Obama isn't involved has to get their head out of the sand. Listen to his speeches about attacking the opposition, he is a community organizer, he lies constantly, and this doesn't sound like his doing? Of course, he didn't speak directly with anyone but you know his underlings, probably Valerie Garrett, who is another enemy of the country, did. If you don't think he was involved in the Benghazi coverup, he was sleeping, didn't know what Holder was doing with AP records,, Solyndra, Fast and Furious etc, then you need to wake up. Once he is out of office, and no longer can threaten people, the truth will come out about him. I think people will see how fooled they were by him

    June 18, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. Luke's e-portfolio

    "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad man. " John Dalberg-Acton. Most likely the order to perform such actions were started in the White house then later blamed on someone else. If we have observed anything it is that politicians spend all their time doing two things. Getting a vote, and covering their dirty deeds. If we are tired of this we should do as the Brazilians of recent time, and protest.

    June 18, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. cb

    zeke z

    The White House Log shows that the head of the IRS visited the WH 159 times during Obama's first term. Coincidence? In previous administrations such visits were rare, usually only 15 times. Wake Up!

    June 18, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |


    The ignorance is astounding. No, there were not 159 visits. There were not 157 visits. There were 11 actual visits.

    June 18, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  16. Greg

    We all know that if a majority of people believe something is true, then it must be.

    June 18, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  17. rc roeder

    CLMAZ have you every been involved in the creation of a 501(c)3 organization, the paperwork and filing process? I have twice, it is painful. And it should be painful. The 501(c)3 status is a coveted tax status for any organization doing public benefit work. However, there are many organization that abuse this status. I believe that after the court ruling on corporation status, the IRS saw a sharp increase (I believe double) of applications from tea party and like groups. If I remember correctly, there was a sharp increase after 911 and hurricane Katrina. Many legit applications, many not. We do not have all of the facts such as what benefit each group would bring, the board of directors, the percentage of overhead the organization would use from donations, etc.

    June 18, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  18. DT

    Regardless of which side of the isle you are on, is this really journalism. They took a poll and reported on it. Public opinion is now more important than the truth. If you don't have a story don't write it.

    June 18, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. Freeland_Dave

    Harry Truman said it accurately and best, "The buck stops here." He knew that everything of a political and military nature was his complete responsibility. Too bad that our current America population have been so "dumbed down" by public/government education/indoctrination they don't know this and excuse our president's abysmal performance as he blames everything he is responsible for on someone else.

    June 18, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  20. Mitzymoon

    A majority of Republicants believe Obama was foreign born, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Republicants think Fox News is a legitimate news source. Republicants are a severely deluded people, so despite all the evidence to the contrary, thinking Obama is directing the IRS easily fits their delusionary worldview. They are like a bunch of yapping Pomeranians at the screen door, "protecting" us from the mailman.

    June 18, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC


    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!
    If you think the White House did have direct involvement in the IRS targeting, then you are not paying attention to what is going on in America! You're also probably living in a right wing media bubble.

    June 18, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Edward Simpson

    I love all the ranting and raving about Obama coming from the right 'cause there's not one damn thing you can do about it. Not. One. Damn. Thing. And your numbers are rapidly being diminished so you'll be even more impotent in the future. I'm loving it!

    June 18, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  23. liberal disease

    They dont have to order it, they know what Barry wants and who he is, there is no Obama memo...they are simpatico

    June 18, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  24. Ol' Yeller

    The power of the 'liberal' media (biggest fallacy ever). The right wing media has taken a less than interesting issue and turned it into a full blown scandal all through the power of their bully pulpit and assisted by overzealous House republicans. If we HAVE a liberal media like O'really, hannity, and rush (all huge media stars... ALL RIGHT WING) then why was this story not buried? Why has this story still got legs without one scintalla of evidence the White House ever had a clue what some low level beuaracrats were doing in in some midwestern state? It is because the right wing WANTS it to have legs and since they control one of the largest media outlets in the world, we are still seeing this non-story continue.
    If this isn't correct, then please tell me why the 'liberal" media is still running this story which really is just nonsense (which you can easily see if you have 1/2 a brain which is 3/4 more than most conservatives have ever had), Thiis is like a Govenor of a State being responsible for some city manager fixing someone's traffic ticket. Nonsense and non-story.
    Get over yourselves, please.

    June 18, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  25. CarrotCakeMan

    Get real, GOP apologists, we all know those anti-tax groups that were investigated are NOT groups supporting their community, they are advocating tax cheating and SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED.

    June 18, 2013 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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