President Barack Obama slammed his embattled tax agency late Tuesday, calling the findings of an internal report “intolerable and inexcusable” as lawmakers from both parties continued to express outrage that some agency personnel had been targeting tea party groups for added scrutiny.
“I have now had the opportunity to review the Treasury Department watchdog’s report on its investigation of IRS personnel who improperly targeted conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status,” Obama said in a statement. “And the report’s findings are intolerable and inexcusable. The federal government must conduct itself in a way that’s worthy of the public’s trust, and that’s especially true for the IRS.”
Obama also said that the agency “must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity. This report shows that some of its employees failed that test,” he added.
The upcoming report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration will reportedly say that lax management allowed the practice to go on for 18 months between 2010 and the 2012 election, according to an advance copy of the report obtained by Associated Press.
The report is expected to say that when asked by investigators, IRS supervisors said the criteria they used to decide which groups they examined were not influenced by people or organizations outside the IRS. The IRS on Friday apologized for targeting tea party as well as other conservative groups.
Obama directed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to “hold those responsible for these failures” and to “make sure that each of the inspector general’s recommendations are implemented quickly, so that such conduct never happens again.”
He said there is no question that the agency “was wrong” to target certain groups for added scrutiny.
“Public service is a solemn privilege,” the president said. “I expect everyone who serves in the federal government to hold themselves to the highest ethical and moral standards. So do the American people. And as president, I intend to make sure our public servants live up to those standards every day.”
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