He did not specify what terms were on the lists, but said he suspended the use of all such lists immediately. Lists from April 2013 that were released included the terms "Paying National Debt" and "Green Energy Organizations."
"There was a wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum" on the lists, Werfel said. He added that his aides found those lists contained "inappropriate criteria that was in use."
Werfel ordered a halt in the use of spreadsheets listing the terms — called BOLO lists for "be on the lookout for— on June 12 and formalized their suspension with a June 20 written order, according to the IRS document the AP obtained. Investigators have previously said that the lists evolved over time as screeners found new names and phrases to help them identify groups to examine.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee released one of the lists, dated November 2010, that the IRS has provided to congressional investigators. That 16-page document, with many parts blacked out, shows that the terms "Progressive" and "Tea Party" were both on that list, as well as "Medical Marijuana," ''occupied territory advocacy" and "Healthcare legislation."
Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, top Democrat on the Ways and Means panel, said he was writing a letter to J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general whose audit in May detailed IRS targeting of conservatives, asking why his report did not mention other groups that were targeted.
"The audit served as the basis and impetus for a wide range of congressional investigations and this new information shows that the foundation of those investigations is flawed in a fundamental way," Levin said.
Republicans said there was a distinction. A statement by the GOP staff of House Ways and Means said, "It is one thing to flag a group, it is quite another to repeatedly target and abuse conservative groups."