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IRS commissioner ousted over tea party targeting


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The Senate Finance Committee announced a hearing for next Tuesday.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Lerner misled him and his staff when they asked her about complaints from conservative groups that they were being harassed by the IRS.

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"I know for a fact, Lois Lerner lied to me, she lied to our personal staff, she lied to committee staff, she lied in correspondence," Jordan said.

Lerner learned about the targeting on June 29, 2011, according to a report Tuesday by the inspector general.

The report said ineffective management at the IRS allowed agents to improperly target tea party and other conservative groups for more than 18 months.

The report said that while their applications for tax exempt status languished, tea party groups were asked a host of inappropriate questions, including: Who are your donors? What are the political affiliations of officers? What issues are important to the organization, and what are your positions on those issues? Will any officers in the group run for public office? Where do you work?

The IRS started targeting groups with "Tea Party," ‘‘Patriots" or "9/12 Project" in their applications for tax exempt status in March 2010, the inspector general’s report said. By August 2010, it was part of the written criteria used to flag groups for additional scrutiny.

Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said Wednesday that no union employees had been disciplined, as far as she knew. She noted that the IG’s report said agents were not motivated by political bias.

Kelley told The Associated Press that low-level workers could not have specifically targeted conservative groups for long without the approval of supervisors. However, she noted, there are many levels of supervisors at the IRS.

"No processes or procedures or anything like that would ever be done just by front-line employees without any management involvement," Kelley said. "That’s just not how it operates."


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