The targeting of conservatives by the IRS started earlier and was more extensive than the IRS acknowledged last week, according to a draft IRS inspector general report obtained by ABC News.
As we reported on "Good Morning America" this morning, the IRS began targeting "Tea Party or similar organizations" in March 2010. That was when the Cincinnati-based IRS unit responsible for overseeing the applications for tax exempt status starting using the phrases "Tea Party," "patriots" and "9/12? to search for applications warranting greater scrutiny.
During this first phase, 10 Tea Party cases were identified. By April of 2010, 18 Tea Party organizations were targeted, including three that had already been approved for tax-exempt status.
By June 2011, the unit had flagged over 100 Tea Party-related applications and the criteria used to scrutinize organizations had grown considerably, flagging not just "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in group names, but also groups that were working on issues like "government debt," "taxes" and even organizations making statements that "criticize how the country is being run."
The report, done by the Inspector General for the IRS, also shows that senior IRS officials in Washington was aware of what was going on as early as August 4, 2011 when, according to the report, the IRS chief counsel held a meeting with the IRS's Rulings and Agreements unit "so that everyone would have the latest information on the issue."
Related: IRS Targeted Tea Party Groups