President Scolds Agency, Congress Calls Hearings
In a feat many thought impossible, the Internal Revenue Service has managed to become even more unpopular. Even President Obama called it "outrageous" this week after the IRS admitted to targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny on their applications for tax-exempt status. An Inspector General's report shows the practice dates back to 2010, and the agency was singling out groups with the phrases "tea party," "patriots," "We the People," and "Take Back the Country" for the added scrutiny. The IRS issued an apology late last week, and blamed the policy on some low-level employees in the agency's Cincinnati office. But that is not nearly enough to quell the chorus of criticism now raining down on the agency. In addition to the President's comments, the blow back was strong from Texas leaders. Sen. Ted Cruz called the policy "an outrage" and "reprehensible," while Sen. John Cornyn referred to it as "Orwellian persecution."
Julie Turner with the Texas Patriots PAC was not a direct victim of the IRS policy, since her organization is different than those small non-profits that were targeted. Nevertheless, she saw the practice first-hand with a close friend and major tea party organizer in Texas. "One of the long-time tea party leaders--who had to submit every open meeting agenda, everything she ever sent in an e-mail, every tweet, they wanted to know all of their speakers, everything....it was designed to punish," she tells KTRH. Now others are coming forward with allegations against the IRS, as well. Patrick McGlinn is a small business owner in Houston who says he has been specifically targeted for IRS audits in recent years. "I talked to a couple friends of mine who are also self-employed--every one of them had their 2008 tax returns audited and were told they owed $3,000," he says.
The acting commissioner and the inspector general of the IRS will both have a lot of explaining to do when they testify this Friday before a hearing called by House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). Everyone is looking for more answers as this potential major scandal begins to unfold. "It's absolutely appalling that the government would use its own resources and strength to act against the people of the United States for expressing a political opinion," says Turner.