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. Holden Kelly

    There is no reason to not suspect EVERY administration keeping tabs on those they suspect of being dangerous. If you want REAL bad guys, why don't you remember Georgie's and Dickie's implementation of warrantless spying, or Tricky Dickie's illegal taping, or the pentagon's ongoing psy-ops warfare being waged on US right now? All you people are so conditioned.

    June 18, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. BinFL

    @Scrittore – So...the apparently really dumb American populace seems to once again be buying into all the Republican noise-machine propaganda with the sole agenda of getting themselves voted back into the WH so they can complete the task of running the country off the rails as well as undoing all the progress made in fixing the mess they left behind for the current administration to deal with.
    Beginning to think this country didn't deserve Barack Obama to clean up Bush's mess. We are a very ungrateful nation and buy into all the negativity too quickly and without proof. He has turned the economy around and we are no longer heading for another Great Depression but people hate the guy. I don't get it. What has he done that is so awful??

    June 18, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Dave

    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.

    Republican leaders lie. Republican supporters lie. Republicans all back the same lies, even knowing they are lies. When it comes to their politics the truth is whatever they want to believe.

    June 18, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. LookNClick

    The IRS issue
    The collecting reporters phone records to find their source
    The Global Spying on Everybody issue,

    These 3 issues seem to be related and should be looked at at the same time.
    They all point to one common problem: government is trying to overreach their boundaries to protect their secrets and their jobs.

    Just imagine how easy is to influence elections via media having this kind of access to the private information.

    Dividing them into separate issues serves the same purpose as dividing food into smaller chunks, so your child can swallow it easier.

    Now, it is pretty safe distance from the elections, this matter may easily boil down and be forgotten.
    If ever take a stance on this issue, it is now.

    June 18, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    camaro guy

    Anyone who has ever sat through an IRS audit knows how much anxiety and anger is caused by the event...In the future, people sitting through audits will naturally associate US Senators and the White House persecuting their political beliefs, no matter what party affiliation they do or do not have.
    This issue is not about audits of tax returns and never will be. You've been bamboozled by your news sources. It's about applying for tax exempt status, not audits of tax returns.

    June 18, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  6. onejn416

    To quote Joe Biden in 2006, "Do not trust a president who spies on people."

    June 18, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. cb


    cb – if you need a license to get a job and you take the test and they do not tell you if you passed until another person gets the job is that OK?


    What does that have to do with anything being discussed here? And by the way, that is the way it happens most of the time, you find out why you didn't get the job once the decision is made that you are not going to get it and someone else is.

    June 18, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  8. Byron Allen

    There is no doubt that Obama in his continuous quest for more power is behind this IRS abuse of power. He is an ego maniac with narcissistic tendencies.

    June 18, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC


    When all the facts come out, I bet there will still be some (mostly blind with bias) that will state the W.H. had nothing to do with the IRS targeting conservative groups. The evidence is becoming stronger that the W H wanted to see more scrutiny.
    The facts have already come to light. The truth came out in closed door testimony. Testimony that issa had initially refused to hear at *his* hearings, so he agreed to let the witnesses testify behind closed door.

    OOPS, there it is. The Truth.. Rep. Issa is suppressing the facts because they don't fit the narrative of his conspiracy theory.

    June 18, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. steven harnack

    I'm losing all hope for this country. This is such a non-issue that it should have been DOA. Not one of the groups was actually denied tax-exempt status, the scrutiny in no way hampered their political activity (which should be off limits for a "charity" anyway) and to cap it all, the extra scrutiny was instigated by a manager who is a self described "tea party conservative" himself, raising at least the possibility that it was a false flag effort to begin with. Over all, it "means" absolutely nothing and as I said, the whole story should have died the day after it came up.

    June 18, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  11. JoJo Starbuck

    Just create controversy, and another, and another and another.....with the hope that we will forget Benghazi, the economy, and his Birth Certificate.

    June 18, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. Soldier

    This is ridiculous, I mean Kim Kardashian had a baby people. Let's get focused.

    June 18, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  13. Lazybum

    @ BinFL

    At first I did not realize you were kidding. I know no one is quite that stupid.

    June 18, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. DustyOnes

    Subpoena Axelrod!

    June 18, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Lazybum

    Anyone who believes that this president's Chicago-style politics stopped at the edge of Lake Michigan is high. I realize all politicians are by definition sleazy, but this guy has elevated it to a whole new level.

    Nixon is standing in awe of the level of sleaze Obama has achieved.

    June 18, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. Michael

    Employing hyperpartisan 'tax agents' is no different than ordering normal people to act in hyperpartisan ways. You can't blame incompetent staff for this if they treat progressive 'charities' one way and conservative 'charities' entirely different. Why would legit nonprofits be delayed/denied/harrassed while Obama's brother gets not only speedy approval but they make it retroactive all the ILLEGAL 'tax deductible' donations he had received over the years (which would put a conservative in prision) were made legal after the fact. When it's dirty, it's dirty ...and this whole thing stinks. If the tables were turned and this were a targeting of progressive groups, the leftist public and media would be foaming at the mouth for people to be hanged. You know it's true!

    June 18, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  17. Kenema

    Hidden Kelly, wasn't there an uprising and our democratic elected officials all complaining LOUDLY when Bush was listening to phone calls that were ALL outside of the United States? Damn straight, they were. What's different now other than a FISA court that rubber stamps all inquiries by the government? Oh, that's right, democrat leadership.

    June 18, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Jabbadahut

    It's amazing just how many scandals have happened on this administrations watch, still want to blame Bush?

    June 18, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  19. FedUp

    New National Poll

    A growing number of Americans are screwed because Republicans think Republicans can't lie, Democrats think Democrats can't lie, so on and so forth.

    The only time the Government really cares about the "little people" is when it gives them good PR.

    Otherwise all they care about is those that contributed those dollar bills to their campaign.


    Pretty much sums up this presidency.

    Now if you will excuse me I need to get my EBT card and either buy some new shoes, a steak and lobster dinner, get a manicure or my hair done. I just don't know the options are endless........ any suggestions?

    June 18, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  20. LouieD

    "Beginning to think this country didn't deserve Barack Obama to clean up Bush's mess."

    We didn't and don't. Obama talks a good game, but as it turns out, that's about all he does well. When it matters, he's way too quick to cave on his positions, in the vain hope of garnering Republican cooperation. Besides this, he seems a bit two-faced. He's been his own worst enemy and hasn't really reversed any Bush policies. Therefore, yes: we don't deserve Barack Obama to clean up Bush's mess. And this is coming from someone who voted for him the first time (threw away my vote on a third party the second time, because Obama did not re-earn it).

    June 18, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  21. Chuck

    Derp, derp–nah, it was some "rogue" agent acting on his own. I need to hire him/her, b/c he/she did the work of hundreds of people. Of course it was this administration that used the IRS to target certain conservative groups.

    June 18, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. Joe

    Since when do we use polls to arrive at the truth? The problem in this country is that media spin often controls people's perception regardless of what the facts are. It's sad that we jump to conclusions even before all the facts come out.

    June 18, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. JustAO

    Better to believe in conspiracy theories than to admit we are way better off with a black man as president than we were when our economy was collapsing 2008. That seems to be the thinking behind these past 5 years.

    June 18, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Jonathan

    people are dumb, is what this tells me. despite a lack of evidence, the frantic searching of facts to fit their narrative by republicans is fooling people into believing there is something here...but there is not.

    June 18, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. us_1776

    I don't know anyone under 35 who has a house phone.

    Well, except a few neocons collecting food stamps and still living in mom's basement.


    June 18, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30