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. joe

    Dave,,,,,,Looks like the white house is the ones who is LIYING.OR do you see only one direction?

    June 18, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  2. S.S. McDonald

    Does a mouse get scared in the middle of a freeway? Does a wild bear dump in the woods? Is the Pope a Catholic? Did the White House order IRS targeting? Is Obama the worst president in the entire history of the USA?

    June 18, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  3. KrjMc

    I see no reason to believe the White House is behind any of it and all the poles say is that the same 37% of the GOP who blames the President for everything are blaming him for this as well. Personally I think we should look at them with a microscope and if any of them are planning on using their tax free status to advocate for anything political, then tax free status should be denied or revoked, regardless of which party they affiliate with, or which church they attend. Tax free status should be only apply to groups that actually help others and use more than 80% of the funds they receive to benefit those who need it.

    June 18, 2013 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. FLIndependent

    @markfromdover – any group claiming tax exempt status should be put through the wringer
    Agreed! Wonder what the poll results would be if the question was "do you think groups asking for tax-exemptions should be scrutiinized for legitimacy"? So tired of all these Tea Party & conservative tax haters bellyaching about those who don't make enough money to pay federal income taxes yet they don't mind these well funded groups getting away with not paying taxes – as usual, they are FULL of contradictions!

    June 18, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. former IRS record exec.

    No body at the record company was involved in this Debacle.... I was let go in 1996 and wasn't rehired in 2011 when the company went through a Revival of sorts. I'd feel like an old lamp, if I went back. God, I miss the Go-Go's! ...

    June 18, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  6. ruth

    If this man ,Mr. Obama, says he knows nothing about Benghazi,the IRS,Fast and Furious,The State Department , The DSA and anything else that has been going on in this administration,but can give you a blow by blow about everything concerning osama bin Laden...he is either lazy or lying,I see no leadership from this person as a commander in chief....and why should anyone believe what he is saying NOW? I think this person has resigned and is now taking all his vacation days and sick days for the next three years that are left ......

    June 18, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. David

    503 people have commented so far on this page. Wonder if they know one another?

    June 18, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  8. ken

    Yes, but they did it in an untraceable at least one link removed fashion. Like the guys who cloned the IBM PC bios did. So responsibility / legality is kept in a fog.

    June 18, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  9. BinFL

    @Helen Whitcomb – 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.
    Wow – if it was the case that Nancy Pelosi had that much power then she would have made sure to not lose the House in 2010. Since when is a presidential candidate vetted by only one person – seriously, get your head out of the sand.

    June 18, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. Cindy

    @BinFL In what universe do you live?
    Unemployment U6 16.9%, when obama started 9%
    89,000,000 people no longer in the work force
    Food stamp usage UP
    Uninsured UP
    Boots on the ground in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, North Africa, Sryia
    Home ownership down
    Foreclosures highest in history
    Where is the turn around, in your dreams?

    June 18, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. Name Uche Agonsi

    The survey result is faulty. The 'intimidation motive' is inconceiveable as well as its unbelievable. There has been no linkage to WH so far from the innumerable investigations done, unpon the desparation of the Repubs to create one. And why should such administrative error that had no financial denial, only delay in prossessing.....that was highlighted by audit & corrective measures applied, months before it was picked up by dumb politicians for trouble-shooting, & enough to warrant a political crisis, be of any gain to anybody. The so called American majority will therefore believe anything if they believe this so-called survey.

    June 18, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Shannon

    You mean to tell me that there was some doubt that it came from the WH?????? Surely the media and America are not that stupid; are they? Oh I guess they are; they elected obozo to begin with!!!! So America you are getting what you voted for! I hope it hurts!!!!

    June 18, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. stingisthetruth

    "didn't deserve Barack Obama to clean up Bush's mess." That'd be nice if he had done so, instead of doubling down on the same policies.
    "Excessive spending" Spend 4 times as much.
    "Violation of American's Rights" Violate our rights even more...

    June 18, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. Dapple

    At the end of the day, people are going to believe what they want to believe regardless of what actually went on because its pretty much everyone's words and everyone's words and quite frankly its never gonna come to a solid conclusion.

    June 18, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Michael

    Both are bad but I am not sure which is worse, that the targeting was ordered by or for the White House by politicians or their political appointees or if the IRS bureaucrats decided on their own or with prompting from their union to go after those they considered enemies due to their lobbying for cutting federal spending and the size of government.

    June 18, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    of course this leads to the WH, any blind person can see this.

    June 18, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. fovillian

    Never mind that all evidence suggests otherwise.

    June 18, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. watash60

    it might not have been a order but a strong hint

    June 18, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. Dent

    The Tea Party is an American extremist group like the KKK and no political party deserves tax exempt status anyway. So the IRS badgered them – big deal . They had it coming

    June 18, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. TXPHarm

    BinFl: After campaigning as a "Centrist Uniter, " who railed against Bush's deficit as "irresponsible" and "unpatritotic",Obama rewarded us with Obamacare, a Trojan Horse for Single Payer and the biggest, snealiest end run around the electorate in US history.
    Obama ignored his own deficit commission to ensure his re election. Its recommendations of lowering tax rates to stimulate the economy and getting rid of tax loopholes to force the rich to pay their fair share did not fit with his class warfare re election strategy. After two years of Obama railing about the rich, MY taxes went up, but Barbara Stresand stil flies around in a tax deductible Lear Jet to make tax deductible contributions to Obama, on her way to have tax deductible plastic surgery with her tax deductible entourage (all of whom pay higher tax rates) where they will all stay in her tax deductible Caribbean hideaway.
    Obama's credibility will go all the way down the toilet around this time next year when the electorate sees what Obamacare is really about, and especially that our president consciously lied to get his signature legislation passed, so he could SUCKER PUNCH the middle class, trick us into giving up our biggest tax deduction by ending employer insurance. Then Democrats hook the growing underclass on free care at our expense, bus them from huge ACO clinics in election years- Voila! Impenetrable Democratic voting bloc. Hugo Chavez must have been SO impressed.

    June 18, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. DCThompson

    The groups that were targeted were organized to influence elections. They run candidates for office and back those candidates. They are not TAX EXEMPT social welfare organizations. Their applications should have been checked very carefully. The IRS employees did their job! The White House did not have to order anything. The IRS employees were doing what they were hired to do. Republicans will do anything and say anything to try to get rid of the president or marginalize him. All this poll tells us is that the Republican propaganda machine is working.

    June 18, 2013 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. James PDX


    Unemployment U6 16.9%, when obama started 9% (False)
    89,000,000 people no longer in the work force (False)
    Food stamp usage UP (True)
    Uninsured UP (False)
    Boots on the ground in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, North Africa, Sryia (False)
    Home ownership down (False)
    Foreclosures highest in history (False)
    Where is the turn around, in your dreams? (Your dreams are false)

    Why do people make completely fallacious posts like this? Well, not completely fallacious. 1 in 8 was correct.

    June 18, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. yeahright

    NameFrank Deery

    Who else gained by blocking Conservative groups, who donate more than Democrats,
    from joining these groups? We need a Special, impartial investigation into this.

    Obama did not win by any landslide in Nov
    2013, and more Republican donors could have helped Romney win.

    Frank,. it was not a landslide, nor was it a razor thin margin. Romney had superpac money behind him three to one over Obama. Money was not an issue. Furthermore, these organizations that were supposedly being scrutinized were applying for tax free status, based on being "social welfare" organizations. If they had been contributing that substantial of a dollar amount to any political cause, they would have been breaking the law.

    June 18, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. James PDX

    Both parties constantly mired in controversies and both parties continually failing to do their job to the detriment of American citizens. When you see the same problem over and over for decades, how stupid do you have to be to not eliminate it? Stop voting for these two parties at any level. Nothing important will ever change while they maintain a power monopoly.

    June 18, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. NameTodd A

    The clown president was in on it all, good god America how dumb and Nieve can you be. He didn't know Jeremiah Wright hated America either. Idiots

    June 18, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
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