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. northerstar

    I doubt Obama told the IRS to go after "Tea Party" application. However AS SOON as there was evidence that this was occurring, Obama should have stepped in and, as President, assumed responsibility to getting to the bottom of this mess. The report has been around for over a year. Obama should have sent anyone that remotely linked to this mess "home with pay" until this was resolved; not leaving people that were either "involved" or without out the intelligence to understand & report that what was taking place was wrong for the American Public that they were supposed to serve. THEN there would be no question WHO was LEADING the country. Now it is just a mess with everyone WAITING to see what is going to happen next. This is just an example of "too little too late" leadership in Washington. CANDIDATE Obama would have expected BETTER from the President.

    June 18, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Of course the Whitehouse was complicit in this act – isn't it all about politics? If we had a President that had a backbone, he would rise above this and not only pulbicly condemn it in strong terms, but he would make sure the perpetrators were punished – Oh wait, I see – he 'is' the perpetrator, could that explain why he hasn't done this!

    June 18, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Clarity

    Anyone on here ever been polled? Who are these people?

    June 18, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. lottie

    amazing how many stupid people out there. Must all listen to the faux news. The station on miss information and conspiracy and scandal.

    June 18, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. z&hcats

    This poll is tend to divide the nation.

    June 18, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    How about some real news like the Holly Paz testimony, how come none of the liberal news organizations aren't covering that. guess they're worried about loosing more sheep.

    June 18, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. Lobelia

    I knew Richard Nixon. Mr. President, you're no Richard Nixon.

    June 18, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Kendall Lawyer

    Do any of you people seriously think that obama would have his personal fingerprints on written orders to the IRS directing its agents to harass TEA Party folks?

    I do not like his policies and the man won't release his school transcripts, but I do not think he is that stupid.

    He has what they used to call, in the Nixon White House, plausible deniability.

    Of course, obama is responsible for the policies of the IRS. It is his government. Clerks in agencies of the federal government do not create policy. That comes from the top.

    June 18, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. ShawnDH

    Anonymous cried: "Of course the Whitehouse was complicit in this act – isn't it all about politics?"

    Why can't you point to specifically what you are referring to when you say "of course the White House was complicit in this act?" On what are you basing this? I'm really curious.

    Why would Obama magically know what a low level IRS employee in Cleveland was doing? On what planet are you living?

    June 18, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. fayray11x

    poll: some people think the earth is flat or is only 5000 years old. so what, your always going to find idiots out there

    June 18, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. ShawnDH

    bjnj cried:"These people at the white house are unbelievable. What happened to the buck stops here. They hired/appointed these IRS people. AUTHORITY=RESPONSIBILITY. If Obama wants the AUTHORITY over the IRS, he must take the RESPONSIBILITY."

    This is absurd. Obama is not responsible for the actions of a low level IRS employee in Cleveland. What a ridiculous point. Do you really think Obama hired that guy? What are you smoking?

    June 18, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. ProudDem

    If anyone bothers to read the actual testimony, all these questions are answered. The self-described "conservative republican" head of the office in question testified that the first application was brought to him for a Tea Party group. He told the employee that they needed to be examined to determine if they were a political group or social welfare..the former NOT being eligable. He then told the staffer to "go get more like that"....they then started using the search terms that all the fuss has been raised about. However, some left groups were picked too...not ONLY conservative groups...most, but not all...not CNN and everyone seems to keep saying. CNN's poll is therefore flawed from the get-go. The question says "As you may know, the IRS targeted conservative political groups...." It's a misleading question and only half true. Nice going CNN, another "poll' to generate headlines.

    June 18, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. AndyM

    Of course more and more Ameicans think this. You have the standard news organizations who are more interested in a juicy scandal and refuse to show how mundane this really is, and you have Faux News, who claims EVERYTHING is a scandal.

    No one is focusing on the real scandal – the abuse of the "social welfare" designation by partisan political groups.

    June 18, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  14. MartinR

    The isn't a single paper linking Hitler with the Holocaust....yet it happened

    When you hire your friends who all follow your doctrine, of course they will do what they can to help you WITHOUT being asked directly. Knowing smiles and cleaver smirks are the new way of communicating.

    WHO on earth would EVER be so stupid as to put pen to paper and say TARGET CONSERVATIVES

    But on the other hand Obama's appointee ignored, under reported, and forgot to mention to the white house the single biggest IRS scandal in 20 years.....

    Why?? because it served the ideals of the current administration.... and that is how evil happens.... consensus

    June 18, 2013 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  15. waitaminute

    Yes Obama did.

    June 18, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  16. Former GOP

    ..........well, you GOOFS have Obama simply because you couldn't pick A REASONABLE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE to oppose him................

    June 18, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  17. Belseth

    Just because Republicans want it to be true doesn't make it true. There's zero evidence so people are listening to Republican whining and media stories hinting that it may be true. People the IRS isn't under the Executive Branch they are under Congress so if anyone ordered the reviews it was Congress!

    June 18, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. Mopery

    Belief does not dictate reality.

    June 18, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. ShawnDH

    So the FULL TRANSCRIPTS of Issa's "investigation" have been released and guess what...there's absolutely nothing tying the actions of a low level IRS employee in Cleveland to the White House. Shocking, I know.

    Now when will Issa be investigated for fraud and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on imaginary scandals? And how dumb do you obsessive Obama bashers feel now that, yet again, you've been proven wrong?

    June 18, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. Monomachos

    All the more reason to complete the investigation. Whatever the outcome the truth needs to come out.

    June 18, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. KarM

    Does anyone truly believe this wasn't choreographed from the big white mansion in DC?

    June 18, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  22. Waahhmbulance

    All this proves is the populace is getting dumber by the minute. Seriously, America? If you order a burger and they put onions on it and you asked for no onions do you assume Obama called McDonald's and told them to put onions on your burger? Sometimes people do a bad job. Blaming EVERY mishap on Obama is going to get more and more of the populace to completely ignore your argument, unless most of that populace is retarded, in which case each poll will show that more and more of them are with you.

    June 18, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  23. Maddog2020

    Obama didn't have to tell them. He hired people just like him to do his bidding.

    June 18, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  24. Joe Rockbottom

    Considering that Darryl "car thief" Issa refuses to release his "proof" of WH involvement, their is little doubt that he his lying. Only people prone to believing right wing entertainers would even consider that Issa is not a liar. All normal people assume he is lying.

    June 18, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. ShawnDH

    waitaminute cried: "Yes Obama did."

    Nope, apparently not. What knowledge do you have that not even the full transcripts of this investigation reveal?

    Just like with the hilarious bither nonsense, you'll have to come up with something to prove your goofy conspiracy theory. But you can't. So let's hear it...what is your substantiated evidence? FoxNews told you to believe something and that's it? Be specific. Let's hear it then.

    June 18, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
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