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Obama Condemns IRS Practice of Targeting Conservative Groups
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President Barack Obama discussed the current Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal, condemning the officials that singled out politically conservative groups prior to the 2012 elections. Reports released on Friday suggest that certain departments within the IRS targeted groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their name, requesting additional questionnaires and information as part of the process for receiving non-profit status. At a press conference on Monday, Obama joined the choir of elected officials calling for a full investigation into the alleged practice.

Regarding the matter, Obama said, “This is pretty straightforward. If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that is outrageous, and there’s no place for it, and they have to be held fully accountable, because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity and people have to have confidence that they are applying the laws in a non-partisan way. You should feel that way regardless of party. But I will not tolerate it, and we will make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this.”

  
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The backlash against the IRS’s scrutiny of conservative groups is one that has crossed party lines, with both Democrats and Republicans calling for an investigation. The Huffington Post reports that Republican Senator Marco Rubio has called on acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller to be fired. (Former commissioner Douglas Shulman stepped down last fall, and the Senate has not yet confirmed a full-time commissioner.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has also supported an investigation into the scandal, saying “I have spoken today to the Senior Senator from Montana, Chairman of the Finance Committee, Max Baucus, and he is looking into this matter in his role as finance chairman of that committee. If the Inspector General’s report indicates further investigation is needed, I have full confidence in the ability of Senator Baucus and the Finance Committee to get to the bottom of this matter and recommend appropriate action.”

The scandal has its roots in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decisions, which gave the IRS additional campaign finance regulatory responsibilities, and led to an increase in filings for 501(c)(4) organizations seeking social welfare status. These requests were fulfilled by the IRS’ Cincinnati office, and it is there that the office’s officials began targeting the conservative groups. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration suspects that these practices were occurring as early as mid-2011.

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The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story, said that no one outside of the IRS was involved in the targeting of conservative groups.





 

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