At Cincinnati IRS office, surprise over claims of partisan villainy
CINCINNATI — The fog of scandal hangs over a boxy, modernist, 10-story building that looks like a monument to paperwork. Shrubs and chain smokers flank its front entrance here on Main Street, in the heart of downtown. Every day, 2,000 employees go to work at various federal agencies in this John F. Kennedy-era structure, whose chief tenant is the Internal Revenue Service — which is having just about the worst week an agency can have.
Up on the fourth floor — with its gray linoleum, low ceilings and fluorescent lights, file carts heaped with manila envelopes, its keypad-coded doors labeled 4-022 (the file room) and 4-034 (the supply room) — the determinations unit of the IRS’s exempt-organizations office is at work.
People in this Cincinnati unit have been accused of using “inappropriate” and “politically sensitive” criteria to scrutinize conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. ...
The staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said that the determinations unit is competent and without bias, that it grouped together conservative applications “for consistency’s sake” — so one application did not sail through while a similar one was held up in review. This consistency is paramount in the review of all applications, according to Ronald Ran, an estate-tax lawyer who worked for 37 years in the IRS’s Cincinnati office.
“You’re not going to have a bunch of flaming liberals in the exempt-organizations department looking for conservative applications,” he said.