Republicans leading the congressional investigation into IRS targeting of political groups may expand their effort after some tax-exempt nonprofits said they were audited for the first time while the agency was scrutinizing tea party and other conservative groups.
According to The Washington Times
, a number of lawmakers have indicated they are looking into the claims, and if the evidence is there, it could deepen the seriousness of the IRS controversy, forcing lawmakers to widen the scope of their investigation.
Morton Blackwell, president of the conservative nonprofit Leadership Institute, said his organization was audited, creating a time-consuming diversion from participating in otherwise permissible activities at the height of the 2012 presidential campaign cycle, according to the Times.
"I know of many other conservative nonprofit organizations who were audited during this period, but who wish not to reveal their identities for fear of hurting their fundraising while donors lose confidence in the tax deductibility of their donations, or for fear of inviting further, extremely expensive, IRS scrutiny," Blackwell told the Times.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, and the Family Research Council also say they faced IRS audits over the last two years, each for the first time, the Times reported.
"When you see the systematic targeting that was done with groups applying for tax-exempt status, it is not too much of a stretch to think maybe we'd better look and see if the IRS was also targeting groups that already had tax-exempt status, via the audit process." Ohio Republican Rep Jim Jordan told the Times.
Jordan, who serves on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has held several hearings on the IRS targeting controversy, cautioned that nothing official had been decided by the panel.
But, he said, "We are beginning to look into that."
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