Tags: irs | tea | party | apology

McConnell Demands Probe of IRS Tea Party Targeting

Image: McConnell Demands Probe of IRS Tea Party Targeting

Saturday, 11 May 2013 03:54 PM

By Matthew Auerbach

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is demanding President Obama order a complete review of his administration in the light of the IRS revealing Friday that it had targeted conservative groups that included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their tax documents during the 2012 election, reports Politico.

“I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views,” McConnell said.

"Last year, amid reports that the Obama administration was using the levers of executive power to harass conservative political groups in Kentucky and elsewhere, I issued a very public warning to the administration that the targeting of private citizens on the basis of their political views would not be tolerated.

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"Today’s apology by the IRS is proof that those concerns were well founded. But make no mistake; an apology won’t put this issue to rest. Now more than ever we need to send a clear message to the Obama Administration that the First Amendment is non-negotiable, and that apologies after an election year are not an sufficient response to what we now know took place at the IRS.

This kind of political thuggery has absolutely no place in our politics.”

The Associated Press reported on Saturday that a federal watchdog's upcoming report says senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups in 2011.

Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting on June 29, 2011 that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog's report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with "Tea Party," ''Patriot" or "9/12 Project" in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.

The disclosure contradicts public statements by former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who repeatedly assured Congress that conservative groups were not targeted.

The 9/12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck. In a statement to the AP, Beck suggested that the revelations were hardly news to him and other conservatives.

"In February 2012, TheBlaze first reported what the IRS now admits to — that they unfairly targeted conservative groups including the 9/12 project," Beck said, citing his website and TV network. "It is nice to see everyone else playing catch-up and finally asking the same questions that TheBlaze started raising over a year ago."

Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups "immediately," the report says.

On Friday, the IRS apologized for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if those groups were violating their tax-exempt status.

The Treasury's inspector general for tax administration is expected to release the results of a nearly yearlong investigation in the coming week.

The Associated Press obtained part of the draft report. It does not say whether Shulman was notified.

While McConnell has called for action on Obama’s part, other GOP lawmakers have already announced they will take matters into their own hands.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., will convene a hearing on the situation in the coming weeks.

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., will do the same.

“The fact that Americans were targeted by the IRS because of their political beliefs is unconscionable,” Issa said.

“The committee will aggressively follow up … and hold responsible officials accountable for this political retaliation.”

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party was silent in defense of the IRS.

It’s “clearly stated from the leadership of the IRS that this is inappropriate and unacceptable behavior and we concur with that,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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