WASHINGTON — Some are calling the IRS scandal “chilling,” while others, like lawmakers, want to know what the tax agency was really up to when it targeted conservative groups.
A new TV ad by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has hit the airwaves, condemning the Obama administration for using the Internal Revenue Service to target Tea Party groups.
“Again and again this administration and its allies have used the resources of the government itself to intimidate or silence those who question,” McConnell says in the ad.
“I don’t know about you,” he continued, “but I think that the leader of the free world and his advisers have better things to do than to dig through other people’s tax returns.”
The IRS scandal is just one of many rocking the White House lately. Can this administration gain back the trust of the American people? Seton Motley, founder and president of Less Government, answers this question and more following George Thomas’s updated report.
Meanwhile, the scandal keeps getting bigger.
The Inspector General’s report said a few low-level employees from the IRS Cincinnati office were involved. But Jay Sekulow, chief counsel with the American Center for Law & Justice, says he has new evidence showing the targeting of conservative groups went beyond a few agents in a single city.
“This is a letter from the United States Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, D.C.,” Sekulow said. “We have the letter; we have the documents.”
“These aren’t hard to get,” he added. “Their agents wrote them to us: 15 agents, four different offices.”
The ACLJ is suing the IRS on behalf of 25 Tea Party and conservative groups.
“This is an agency that is basically is out of control,” Sekulow charged. “Right now, Treasury – I’d say the IRS in particular – is institutionally incapable of regulating itself.”
The White House has dismissed suggestions it was aware of the targeting, saying the president only learned of the investigation from the media.
Meanwhile, the scope and breadth of the allegations have many wondering what the tax agency was really up to.
“When a government decides to start targeting its own citizens for no other reason than political affiliation we all have a right to be very, very scared,” Adam Brandon, executive vice president of FreedomWorks, told CBN News.
The IRS sent out questionnaires wanting to know what books people read, their Facebook posts, donor names. Some groups were even asked to give information about their prayers.
Lawmakers pressed former acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller on the matter at a May 17 House Ways and Means Committee hearing:
Illinois Rep. Aaron Shock (R): “Specifically asked by the IRS to the pro-life coalition of Iowa, ‘Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers.’ Would that be an appropriate question to a 501c applicant?” the GOP lawmaker asked Miller.
Miller: “It pains me to say I can’t speak to that one either.”
Shock: “You don’t know whether or not that would be an appropriate question of an applicant?”
Miller: “Speaking outside of this case, which I don’t know anything about that case, it would surprise me that question was asked.”
The big question is: who’s responsible? Who ordered the IRS to target Tea Party and conservative groups?
Critics find it hard to believe a problem this big originated from the IRS’s Cincinnati office.
“I would kind of sleep better at night if this were directed by someone in the White House or some agency, but I’m actually just fearful that this is just bureaucrats gone crazy,” Brandon said.
“I think we’re just starting to get into where this originated, who knew what when,” Brandon continued. “And I believe, like Watergate, this is probably going to be a scandal that’s going to continue to drip and we’re going to learn more as time goes on.”