Republicans call for an inquiry into IRS' targeting of conservative groups

McClatchy Washington BureauMay 10, 2013 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on Friday called for the White House to conduct a "transparent, government-wide review" after the IRS admitted that they scrutinized conservative groups during the 2012 election.

“Today’s acknowledgement by the Obama administration that the IRS did in fact target conservative groups in the heat of last year’s national election is not enough," McConnell said. "Today, 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."

The IRS apologized for focusing on tea party groups during the camaign, but denied any political motive.

At an American Bar Association meeting, Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out.

Conservative groups complained during the election that they were being targeted. Some tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities but it cannot be their primary activity.

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La. sent a letter to the IRS Friday requesting the agency release all communications containing the words “tea party,” “patriot,” or “conservative,” and names and titles of all individuals involved in the discrimination.

"Despite their unwillingness to cooperate, more than a year later, the IRS has now admitted to what we long suspected – it was targeting tea party groups," he said. "The IRS’s ‘too little too late’ response is unacceptable, and I will continue to work to ensure there are protections in place so no American, regardless of political affiliation, has their right to free speech threatened by the IRS.” In March 2012, Boustany asked the IRS to explain why it was "questioning new tax-exempt applicants, including grassroots political entities such as tea party groups, about their operations and donors." Boustany, chairman of the oversight subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the IRS denied the allegations.

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