The IRS admitted to targeted members of the GOP and Tea Party, a development which has understandably angered conservatives. A special unit went beyond typical protocol singling out small government groups for using the words “Tea Party” and “patriot,” when applying for tax-exempt status, it was announced Friday (May 10).
Lois Lerner-– leader of the special division in charge of investigating the collectives aimed at doing things like making “America a better pace to live”– claims to have recently learned of the unethical inquires from a news report. However, the Associated Press found that she was briefed on the department’s efforts in June 2011. Additionally, ex-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said last March that “there’s absolutely no targeting,” of any group based on their political allegiance.
“The timeline supports what the IRS acknowledged Friday that mistakes were made,” said IRS spokeswoman Michelle Eldridge in an emailed statement. “There were not partisan resins behind this.”
The attempt at an apology was rejected by conservative group, Tea Party Patriots, whose leader said in part that the “deliberate targeting and harassment of Tea Party groups reaches a new low in illegal activity and overreach.”
Furthermore, the IRS’s refusal to take full responsibility, is doing little to quiet the Right Wing. “It’s absolute chilling that the IRS was singling out conservative groups for extra review,” said Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-ME). “I think it’s very disappointing that the president hasn’t personally condemned this and spoken out.”
While President Obama has remained mum on the scandal thus far, the White House released a statement side-stepping any blame thrown on the administration, noting that the IRS only has two political appointees. “The fact of the matter is what we know about this is of concern,” said spokesman Jay Carney. “We certainly find the actions taken, as reported, to be inappropriate.”
For others, the IRS’s actions are not about politics but privacy. “I don’t care if you’re a conservative, a liberal, a Democrat or a Republican, this should send a child up your spine,” noted Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican. “This is something that we cannot let stand.”
In singling out Republicans, the “key words” were searched to “go after conservatives,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa said on NBC’s Meet the Press. Issa has requested an audit of the inspectors, which will not result in criminal prosecution.
House Republicans have also announced the start of internal hearings and investigations into the incidents.
News of the alleged discrimination plot comes as the Obama Administration continues to receive criticism over the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans last September. On Friday ABC News obtained 12 different versions of talking points on the North African attacks proving that all references to terrorism had been edited out, before being disbursed to Congress and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice.
Photo: Cheryl Casey