The Internal Revenue Service admitted Friday to specifically targeting conservative political groups in election year 2012 for additional review and scrutiny in their requests for tax-exempt status.
Complaints that the IRS was holding up requests from tea party and other conservative groups trying to obtain 501(c)(4) status began over a year ago.
However, Friday afternoon, IRS director of tax exempt organizations, Lois Lerner, said groups requesting tax-exempt status with the name “tea party” and “patriot” were targeted for further review.
According to CNN:
Any applications that were incomplete, lacked consistent information, or indicated a group would be involved with some type of advocacy, were filed into a certain group for further review.
However, approximately 75 of the 300 groups that were filed for further review were simply filed because they had the names “tea party” and “patriot,” Lerner said.
“They did pick the cases by names and that’s absolutely inappropriate and not the way we should do things,” she said, though stressing it was done as a “shortcut,” not out of “political bias.”
Lerner apologized on behalf of the IRS, but said no top officials in the IRS were aware of the practice.
Conservative congressmen have already rejected the IRS apology and are calling for investigations. Rep. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan have already spoken on the matter.
CNN reported Friday:
McConnell, who called an apology from the IRS insufficient, deemed the IRS tactics “political thuggery” with no place in American politics.
“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,” McConnell wrote in a statement.
Two Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan, wrote in a joint statement, “The fact that Americans were targeted by the IRS because of their political beliefs is unconscionable. The Committee will aggressively follow up on the IG report and hold responsible officials accountable for this political retaliation.”
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots also rejects the IRS apology and issued a scathing statement.
“The IRS has demonstrated the most disturbing, illegal and outrageous abuse of government power,” Martin said, according to CNN. “This deliberate targeting and harassment of tea party groups reaches a new low in illegal government activity and overreach.”
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