IRS employees were ordered by their superiors — including IRS official Lois Lerner who pleaded the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination before Congress — to send certain Tea Party tax-exemption applications to the IRS Chief Counsel’s office, which is headed by Obama political appointee William Wilkins, according to a letter released today by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

“As a part of this ongoing investigation, the Committees have learned that the IRS Chief Counsel’s office in Washington, D.C. has been closely involved in some of the applications,” reads the letter.  “Its involvement and demands for information about political activity during the 2010 election cycle appear to have caused systematic delays in the processing of Tea Party applications.”

It further states, “[B]ased on his decades of experience, [career IRS official Carter Hull] determined he had enough facts to make recommendations whether to approve or deny the applications . … However, Mr. Hull’s recommendations were not carried out.  Instead, according to Michael Seto, the head of Mr. Hull’s unit in Washington, Lois Lerner instructed that the Tea Party applications go through a multi-layer review that included her senior advisor and the Chief Counsel’s office.”

William Wilkins, the IRS chief counsel, was appointed by President Obama to his position in 2009, and is one of two politically appointed employees at the IRS. The other employee is the IRS commissioner: Douglas Shulman, a Bush appointee, was commissioner from March 2008 to November 2012, followed by Acting Commissioner Steve Miller until May 2013, who had been selected by Obama; the current acting commissioner is Daniel Werfel, appointed by Obama in May.

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