Hatch Demands 41 Answers as Noose Tightens Around IRS

Monday, 20 May 2013 05:37 PM

By Dan Weil and Greg Richter

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Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch turned up the heat on the under-fire Internal Revenue Service on Monday demanding it turns over reams of documents that would show the extent of its targeting of conservative groups.

Hatch, the ranking member of the Senate's Finance Committee joined Democratic chairman Sen. Max Baucus with a list of 41 demands to acting IRS director Steven Miller.

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The demands came on the eve of Miller's appearance before the committee as lawmakers try to unravel the scandal that has rocked President Barack Obama's administration.

"Targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is also intolderable," Hatch of Utah and Baucus of Montana wrote as they demanded answers by the end of the month.

Among the demands are:
• a list of all words and phrases used to target applications for additional scrutiny;
• the names of all staff, however junior who "made, participated in, or approved the decision to target tax-exept applications for addtional review" if the applications contained such words as well as the names of those who knew about the practice;
• details of any internal disciplinary action taken against staff involved;
• details of new procedures implemented to prevent similar scandals occurring in the future; and
• copies of all communications with the White House that might show that anyone there knew what was happening.

Miller resigned as acting commissioner after Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asked him to, but he won't step down until June. He will testify Tuesday before the Finance Committee along with former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman and Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general over the IRS. George's investigative report was released last week.

The senators want to know why the IRS failed to tell them about the targeting, even after Hatch and others repeatedly asked them about it first in March last year and then again in June.

"Targeting for tax-exempt status using political labels threatens to undermine the public's trust in the IRS," Baucus and Hatch write. "Lack of candor in advising the Senate of this practice is equally troubling."

The White House acknowledged on Monday that its counsel was told on April 24 about the preliminary findings of an IRS audit that eventually showed Internal Revenue Service employees had targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, later informed the White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other senior staff members about the politically damaging preliminary findings of inappropriate activity by some IRS employees.

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President Barack Obama was not told, and no one at the White House intervened in what was an ongoing probe at the time into the IRS targeting of conservative groups, Carney told reporters.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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