The Internal Revenue Service not only targeted “tea party” and “patriot” groups for extra review, but also organizations focused on the Constitution, government spending and critical of “how the country is being run,” according to news reports.
The wider target list is included in a report from Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which is expected to be released this week.
According to Fox News, which obtained the list of additional guidelines from the IG report, an agency unit was giving “tea party” and “patriot” groups additional scrutiny as far back as 2010. By June 2011, that list of additional focus criteria had expanded to include groups critical of “how the country is being run,” and those focused on government spending, debt, taxes, and education on how to “make America a better place to live.”
By early 2012, Fox reported, the list expanded to include groups working to limit government and educate people on the Constitution, Bill of Rights and social economic reform.
Lois Lerner, the director for the tax-exempt status division of the IRS, apologized on Friday for the targeting of conservative groups. According to Lerner, low-level employees in Cincinnati started the practice, which agency officials discovered last year and have attempted to correct.
Lawmakers have voiced outrage at the revelations and called for investigations.
“The [House oversight] committee will aggressively follow up on the IG report and hold responsible officials accountable for this political retaliation,” Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan said in a statement Friday.
Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell further criticized the administration for engaging in “political thuggery.” McConnell said that an apology for the practice was not enough, and called 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.”
“I’m concerned about that,” California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein added on NBC, according to the Wall Street Journal, when asked about the emerging scandal. “Somebody made the decision that they would give extra scrutiny to this particular group. And I think we have to understand why.”