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. DJ Reality

    Before we blame the president. Let's see the proof. No political group should be tax free in the first place. .

    June 18, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  2. ShawnDH

    It's fascinating to me (and hilarious) what America's goofy right-wing nutballs will believe, based on nothing. Why can't they come up with anything except "yes huh!" to support their claims of White House involvement in what is really a non-scandal anyway?

    I know why. Because there is nothing, as usual, behind their crazy conspiracy theories. You'd think they'd realize they're being played by now, but nope. Gullible, low information voters are who keep Republicans in power.

    June 18, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. DJ Reality

    Ah, yes this is America where you are guilty until you are found not guilty. There is no such thing as being found innocent anymore. Boy, we have come a long way as a nation haven't we.

    June 18, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  4. kuhrdan1

    Since elevating a non-scandal into a scandal under false pretenses, the Republican Teabagger Christian party needs to pay back for costs in pursuing such actions.

    June 18, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. NorCalMojo

    Of course Obama ordered it. The only question is whether there is proof or not..

    June 18, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  6. ShawnDH

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

    And we have a winner! When you have no point, go right to Hitler. The end. You lose and this debate is over.

    June 18, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  7. philipjbaker1952

    This is not about us verses them its about making sure that who ever started this practise is held accountable . Our rights should be protected fully. If its Obama or someone else we deserve to know, if one group is targeted we are all at risk we must demand the whole story.

    June 18, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Fallen Kell

    @Kendall Lawyer: In terms of his school transcripts, he graduated magna cum laude... You don't need to see the rest of the transcript to know that meant he had a ~3.7-3.8 GPA. You don't need to know much more than that since it meant he had mostly A's with a couple B's, or at most 1 or 2 C's....

    June 18, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. ibsurfing

    The White House didn't need to be 'directly' involved they made it clear to all their underlings, in fact the entire country, that demonizing dissenting opinion is not only accepted but welcome behavior. As with any employer. Disagree and you're not helping the company to find a coherent and fair philosophy–you're 'disgruntled' and that will get you fired. We have al sorts of sayings that cover this: "Don't bite the hand that feeds you.", "They know what side their bread is buttered on.", even the more oblique "Let sleeping dogs lie.". Every government employee has learned by indoctrination and oblique directive, from the White House rhetoric since Obama came into power and prior from the progressives in general, that this was an acceptable exercise in the oppression of dissent. This is fascism. People tend to misunderstand fascism as "conservative"–in fact each and every one of these movements has been "socialist" in nature for those who consent–dissenters are silenced, eliminated, and their wealth "redistributed" to those who consent. This is everywhere with this administration–the IRS, the NSA, the Supreme Court decision against documentation of citizenship, on and on. Wake up. America is now Amerika.

    June 18, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. TAR MAN

    The Obama Regime – the Nixon administration on steroids.

    June 18, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  11. sly

    Yawn ... wake us up when more than just 2 clerks were disciplined for doing their job.

    June 18, 2013 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  12. philipjbaker1952

    When it comes to our rights being protected no one is above the law weather it be Obama or his staff or someone at the IRS . This is not about political beliefs its about the law being evenly enforced or its up to abuse by all those we trust to enforce it . Putting our trust totally in someone we don't without question is foolish.

    June 18, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  13. Cynical View

    Since the Me-Too Media keeps echoing the Republican Talking Points over and over again – nee the word "scandal" – is it any surprise that readers of the Me-Too Media might "agree" there is a scandal even though real Repupublicans have said THEY were the ones "ordering" the closer examination of organizations with the words "tea party" in their names? BTW – what loaded words were used in the "poll" questions?

    June 18, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. truthteller

    So Republicans in Congress have said there is no connection to the White House but the GOP isn't letting that fact keep them from saying they did.

    June 18, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  15. spack

    As criminal as this may be it is really a smoke screen to divert attention from Benghazi. Which shows that republicans are complicit in the murders and the gun-running, meanwhile all our communications are recorded while they arm the very ones they claim to be protecting us from. 2 billion dollars to build a 250 acre complex in Utah. Did you vote for that? No but the fleecing will continue. Guess I'll just sit here and wait for the next fake shooting/bombing so I can be further enslaved to the fascist banker mafia.

    June 18, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  16. Mark Baird

    "Congressional sources on both sides say that interviews with IRS workers so far have found no evidence of political dealings by the White House."

    It is a shame that the American people come to judgement about anybody without proof.

    June 18, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    According to Harry Reid proof isn't needed anymore.

    Liberals setting the standard on this one.

    June 18, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  18. p

    My main concern is that we stop allowing ALL these political groups, left or right, to avoid paying their taxes. It's billions, and has to stop...

    June 18, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  19. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)


    Of course Obama ordered it. The only question is whether there is proof or not..

    June 18, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  20. Wildfawn

    The crime is that obviously political parties were attempting to take advantage of tax-free status, which was never intended for such as they. Bureacrats at the IRS went over the line in trying to find the proof, but it was obvious and you have to give them credit for not just refusing the applications outright.

    June 18, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  21. Patrick R. Tull

    Facts don't lie. Where is the evidence? You can't make allegations without evidence. If Rep. Issa release the transcripts (which he refuses to do) AMERICA will learn that the IRS was simply doing their jobs investigating bogus "social welfare" groups. Testimony will show that the targeting was started by a conservative republican in OH. deal with it.

    June 18, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  22. Larry L

    With their new effort to capture viewers CNN is copying the Fox News' code of journalistic ethics. It seems they can create stories based on nothing but political bias – just to get people to read the advertisements. When you read the article you discover absolutely nothing but distortions and ridiculous statistical gamesmanship. I'm sad to see them go.

    June 18, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. wildbill

    He is what we should do.get all and I mean all of the motorcycle clubs in the u.s. and ride to the white house and ride right up the steps and tell them to leave.

    June 18, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Larry L


    Of course Obama ordered it. The only question is whether there is proof or not..
    Read this and see how effective right-wing scandels can be on the haters.
    "whether there is proof or not.." Great way to make decisions...

    June 18, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  25. sib

    hate to tell all you bummer supporters your a sinking ship.

    June 18, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
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