If The IRS Targeted The Left, Too, Will The House Hear It?

Jul 13, 2013
Originally published on July 13, 2013 1:43 pm

The House Oversight Committee will hold its latest hearing next week into how the IRS handled the applications of groups seeking tax exempt status. The hearings have morphed from a scandal over the targeting of Tea Party groups into something broader.

It all started when a report from IRS Inspector General J. Russell George said groups with Tea Party in their name were targeted for extra scrutiny for possible political activity. When asked if progressive groups were also targeted, he said no.

California Republican Darrell Issa, the Oversight Committee chairman, accused the president of using the IRS to target his enemies. But documents released by the committee's top Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, show IRS employees weren't motivated by politics and were instructed to flag progressive groups, too.

"I think the documents do open up a number of questions as to the integrity of the IG's report," Cummings says.

Cummings is asking Issa to call on George to testify again. A spokesman says Issa is still reviewing the request and questions the significance of the newly released documents. Regardless of who was on IRS watch lists, the spokesman says, conservative groups were treated more harshly than progressives.

As for the inspector general, a spokeswoman tells NPR: "We stand by our findings and testimony."

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Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Next week, the House Oversight Committee will hold its latest hearing into how the Internal Revenue Service handled the applications of groups seeking tax-exempt status. As NPR's Tamara Keith reports, this has changed from a scandal over the targeting of Tea Party groups into something broader.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: It all started with a report from the IRS inspector general, saying groups with Tea Party in their name were targeted for extra scrutiny for possible political activity. When asked if progressive groups were also targeted, he said no. Oversight Committee chairman, Republican Darrell Issa, accused the president of using the IRS to target his enemies. But documents released by the committee's top Democrat, Elijah Cummings, show IRS employees weren't motivated by politics and were instructed to flag progressive groups too.

REPRESENTATIVE ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I think the documents do open up a number of questions as to the integrity of the IG's report.

KEITH: Cummings is asking Issa to call the inspector general to testify again. A spokesman says Issa is still reviewing the request and questions the significance of the newly released documents. He says regardless of who is on the IRS watch list, conservative groups were treated more harshly than progressives.

As for the Inspector General, a spokeswoman says, quote, "We stand by our findings and testimony." Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.