By Will Swaim and Ryan Ekvall | Watchdog.org
President Barack Obama’s executive staff reviewed Watchdog’s news website in record numbers at precisely the moment when Internal Revenue Service visits to the same site spiked, Watchdog.org’s analytics show.
A similar report reveals that the Executive Office of the President and IRS were the source of a similar December traffic spike on the website of Watchdog.org, the online news network of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. (Updated: an earlier version of this incorrectly reported that traffic spiked in January.)
The White House has said that IRS reviews of conservative nonprofits were procedurally “inappropriate on the part of fairly low-level agents.”
This new data suggests at least a coincidence of interests in Watchdog.
According to Google analytics, the IRS generated 456 unique visitors, between January 2009 and May 2013. The report notes 552 visits and 709 page views from the IRS. Most of the traffic occurred between the second half of 2012 and this week.
One day in December, watchdog.org received more than 100 visits from the tax agency.
The analytics show 60 unique visitors and 84 page views to Watchdog.org from eop.gov, the Executive Office of the President, between December 2009 and May 2013.
The IRS has apologized in recent days for targeting conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status. Republicans are calling for criminal prosecutions, and the FBI is now investigating.
The source of White House visits, eop.gov, redirects visitors to the official White House website. A message on that redirect reads, “You have requested a page on EOP.gov and have been redirected here. EOP.gov is a domain operated by the Executive Office of the President. WhiteHouse.gov is the public-facing website for the EOP.”
Watchdog.org is a free-market oriented news organization with reporters in several state capitals, each focused on waste, fraud and abuse in local government. The news site’s parent Franklin Center, its site says, focuses its efforts on “driving a conversation about transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility at the grassroots level and putting a human face on public policy.”
M.D. Kittle contributed
Will Swaim is managing editor of Watchdog.org. Contact Swaim at firstname.lastname@example.org