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. JinInNashville

    Pathetic how Democrats will countenance ANY behavior by their Lord and Savior Obama, no matter how outrageous it is.

    The rising objection by the American public has nothing to do with "haters" or "teabaggers" or any such. It is simply about a government that is vicious, dishonest, and irresponsible.

    June 18, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. BinFL

    @Louie D – "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).
    Then perhaps we would have been better off going into that Depression and continue losing 750,000 jobs/month and having our 401ks decimated. Honestly, why can't you people focus on the positive things. No President has ever been perfect and none will ever be. He has done a good job with what he has to work with which is a non-compromising, defeat at all costs, Repub House whose only goal now is to destroy his reputation. Like I said, we didn't deserve him. Should have had McCain/Palin and let all he*ll break loose!!!

    June 18, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. patriot00

    There is no reason at all to not believe this was not directed from the white house. Unless you are a complete moron but i am at there right place to encounter them. Heck look how many dem congressman said they contacted the irs to investigate the tea party. You people need to come to grips with the fact that your are part of the most corrupt adminastration in history. You can't defend yourselves by being total idiots and putting your head in the sand !

    June 18, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Ge

    Of course they did! duh!

    June 18, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. Ol' Yeller

    No one has answered the question about how this continues to be an above the fold story when there is absolutley NO EVIDENCE, none, zero, Da Nada, that the targetting of the tea bagger groups had any ties whatsoever to the WH. How is that this is is still a story AND the press is liberal? I'll tell you.... because these are both fallacies that the haters in our society have grasped onto like a drowning man to a stinking dolphin corpse. It may stink and be disgusting, but it is all you got to keep afloat, so you hang on.
    It is pitiful, shameful, and dishonorable; and any person who gets on here and perpetuates this non story is either totally uninformed, completely ignorant as to the facts, or is just a partisan imbecile.

    June 18, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. Brian

    It is a very flawed poll. Most people dislike the federal government and the IRS, regardless if there is a controversy or not. So when you put them in the same sandwich, that sandwich is gonna suck bigtime. I would have to ask this question: how many of those answering the poll questions actualy saw the congressional hearings on the IRS mess? Just goes to show how oblivious the general public really is.

    June 18, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. OK

    Cindy, you are the one that needs to check what universe you are in. Your "facts" are seriously off.

    June 18, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  8. NameTodd A

    Just make Mohammed Obama go away, so sick and tired of this jerk, ohh I didn't call him stupid I said he acted stupidly, what a jerk

    June 18, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  9. Kate J

    @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.

    I believe ANY is the key word here. Scrutinize all groups going for tax exempt status not just certain ones just because you don't believe in their politics.

    June 18, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. Yakobi

    "Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement..."

    That's because young Americans are typically naive, stupid, uninformed, and get all their news from The Daily Show.

    June 18, 2013 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  11. luzzionz

    there has been no proof .. only a Republican House and a certain news/opinion channels wet dream that it's fact.. you Tell a Lie long enough without ... more and more people believe the lie... this is how we dissemnate information.. and it's wrong

    June 18, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. Blind Man with seeing eye dog

    I didn't see this coming. But boy, when it hit – it sure scared my dog. He's been gone nearly a week. Have you seen him? Bad dog!

    June 18, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. BinFL

    @USA – 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??

    Wow...You are exactly what we are talking about..The low informed uneducated voter. Your the reason we are in this mess to begin with...Hows that Hopie Changey thing working for you?
    I am very informed as I've watched closely this Presidency from Day 1 and all I have seen is obstruction, lying, hating, and racism from the Repubs/Tea Partiers. Once example: why did the Tea Party suddenly appear right after Obama's inauguration yelling about the bailouts when it was Bush who started them? Another example: Why are the Repubs/Tea Partiers trying so hard to overturn Obamacare when it was based on Romneycare? Another example: Why do the Repubs/Tea Parties in the House agree to something then when the President agrees with them they change their mind. It is CONGRESS that has a 10% approval rating, so even if the President's rating goes down to 40% he'll still be way over above the Congress who is the real culprit in our gov't.

    June 18, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Complete ignorance

    When are we going to move on from this Republican manufactured wannabe scandal? There are no connections to the White House and those TeaParty applications should have been flagged for attempting to defraud the IRS. Hands down they were politically affiliated organizations.

    June 18, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Ol' Yeller

    For all you people submitting that this without a doubt came from the White House, could you please submit one iota of testimony from the transcripts of the hearings to indicate that.... No wait, you can't. Because Issa will not allow them to be released. Why? Because if he does the story goes away because there is no evidence... He wants to stretch his 15 minutes to 17 minutes. What does he think this is, a Soap Opera... to be continued? You folks on the right should demand more from your elected officials. He makes you al look bad (like you need help).
    What a clown.

    June 18, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  16. Cathy

    Some people at the White House did know. Doesn't necessarily mean they instigated the actions but it does mean they turned a blind eye to it. Too bad. I think Obama would have won the election regardless but now he comes off as either condoning this behavior from the IRS or as being negligent when it comes to knowing what is going on around him. It also adds to the impression that he is not very ethical.

    June 18, 2013 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. bobo

    Obama Lies!!!

    June 18, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. cb


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


    And why would they do this? IRS law allows these organizations to proceed while their applications are being reviewed simply by complying with the law and filing the required tax returns.

    June 18, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. bawanadick

    the real trurth,,the guy that conducted the investigattions for the irs was a staunch republican,,,,,,end of story,,just like everything else you rethugs have tried to do to this guy ,,falll off to the way side,,,,yeah corporations are people too huh,,,,,thanks republican led supreme court,,thanks again republican led supreme court for the coup with illegally votingin gwb,,there by getting your illegal war that you wanted,,really has anything he done been as bad as the afghan iraq debacle caused by the war mongering rethugs,,nothing he has done comes close to the last pre sorry rethugs as much as you want to make the black guy look bad,,,,it's nothing compared to what the last pres did period

    June 18, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Mr. John R. Cash

    They built it one piece at a time
    with a little bit of yours, and a little of mine
    Built it one piece at a time
    It's the last time I'll drink Mad Dog Wine

    June 18, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Will the Quill

    What idiot doesn't believe the IRS auditing didn't start at the top. They must believe "pink pigs fly."

    June 18, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  22. ShawnDH

    Well the full transcripts of the "investigation" were released (Issa was trying to block them...wonder why) and of course there is absolutely nothing tying the White House to this non-scandal. Swing and a miss. Again. Good luck with your next fake scandal.

    June 18, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. Beancounter

    What kind of a stupid CNN headline is that?
    Fact free yellow journalism at it's worst.

    June 18, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. Ratt

    Anyone who thinks they didn't is a tool.

    June 18, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  25. ShawnDH

    Anonymous whined: "of course this leads to the WH, any blind person can see this."

    How so? Based on what, extactly? What is your proof of this claim? Please provide substantiated evidence supporting your claim.

    You seem to be the one who is blindly believing something with absolutely nothing to support it.

    June 18, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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