By the fall of 2010, the legal expert in Washington, Carter Hull, was working on about 40 applications, Paz said. A little more than half had "tea party" in the name, she said.
IRS agents in Cincinnati were singling out groups for extra scrutiny if their applications included the words "tea party," ''patriots" or "9-12 project," according to the inspector general's report. Paz said she didn't learn that agents were targeting groups based on those terms until June 2011, about the time Lerner first ordered agents to change the criteria.
Paz said an IRS supervisor in Cincinnati had commonly referred to the applications as "tea party" cases. But, Paz said, she thought that was simply shorthand for any application that included political activity.
"Since the first case that came up to Washington happened to have that name, it appeared to me that's why they were calling it that as a shorthand," Paz told congressional investigators.
Paz said she didn't think the agents in Cincinnati were politically motivated.
"Many of these employees have been with the IRS for decades and were used to a world where how they talked about things internally was not something that would be public or that anyone would be interested in," Paz said. "So I don't think they thought much about how it would appear to others. They knew what they meant and that was sort of good enough for them."
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