The inspector general for the Internal Revenue Service is expanding his investigation of how the agency treated political groups to determine if it subjected both liberals and conservatives to the same kind of scrutiny and treatment.
Inspector General J. Russell George, testifying before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday there was new evidence in the controversy over the targeting of conservative group tax-exemption applications to suggest that liberal groups received extra scrutiny as well, The New York Times reports
George said new evidence suggests the IRS used keywords like "progressive" to single out liberal groups as well for extra review.
Still, George, who wrote the report fueling the IRS targeting scandal, defended both his findings and credibility to committee Democrats, who accused him of ignoring the targeting of liberal or progressive-leaning groups.
According to Politico
, the inspector denied withholding information from Congress and said he had only just been given documents that called for IRS agents to flag progressive groups as well.
He also fought back charges that he was pro-Republican, reminding Democrats that he was a page at the 1980 Democratic National Convention and a co-founder of the Howard University College Democrats.
He could have stopped there, but didn't, and managed to anger a few on the panel with the observation that he eventually "saw the light and joined [former Senate Majority Leader] Bob Dole's staff."
"The more we look at him, the more we need to explain his professional credibility," Virginia Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly said. "I would start by getting a new inspector general. He has so compromised his credibility with at least half of us that it makes it almost impossible for him to go forward with his job."
However, Republicans defended George and his work, and Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California pointed to the timing of his audit.
He noted that the inspector general knew before the 2012 election that conservatives were targeted, but didn't tell anyone of the findings until May of this year.
"If you wanted to play Republican politics you could have had a heck of an opportunity," Issa observed.
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