As the Wall Street Journal put it in a May 10 story: "The Internal Revenue Source apologized Friday for what it said were mistakes in targeting tea-party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny during the 2012 election campaign but said its actions weren't politically motivated."
Really? The IRS probed the funding sources of conservative groups in a presidential election year but the scrutiny wasn't politically motivated?
Statements like that focus the nation's attention wonderfully. And sure enough, there was more.
On Sunday, the Journal reported that a government probe of the targeting "went beyond those with "tea party" or "patriot" in their names . . . to also include ones worried about government spending, debt or taxes, and even ones that lobbied to 'make America a better place to live . . ."
And then it got worse:
"The investigation also revealed that a high-ranking IRS official knew as early as mid-2011 that conservative groups were being inappropriately targeted - nearly a year before then IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told a congressional committee the agency wasn't targeting conservative groups."
The IRS has said the focus on conservative groups came from lower-level civil servants in the Cincinnati office, and not from political appointees in Washington.
The agency's explanation is that applications for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status had been centralized in that office for the sake of consistent handling, and that employees of that office - not political operatives - developed the "absolutely inappropriate" criteria.
But skeptics noted that the agency did not disclose the problems until the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released some findings to congressional investigators.
The inspector general's office is expected to release a report this week.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said mildly on Sunday "Somebody made the decision that they would give extra scrutiny to this particular group. And I think we have to understand why."
That's the understatement of the year.