IRS report details targeting of conservative groups

As the U.S. Attorney General ordered a criminal probe into how the IRS targeted more conservative groups, a newly released report detailed how one unit at the tax agency created a "Be On the Lookout" list for tea party type groups applying for tax exempt status.

The Inspector General that watches over the IRS said the evidence "gives the appearance that the IRS is not impartial in conducting its mission."

And that was confirmed repeatedly in a 54 page report made public on Tuesday, which showed how one IRS unit began looking at Tea Party groups in early 2010, showering them with unnecessary requests for documents and information, and delaying some applications through two different election cycles.

The reviews of that report were not good from President Obama, who labeled the findings "intolerable and inexcusable" in a written statement issued by the White House.

"The IRS must apply the law in a fair and impartial way, and its employees must act with utmost integrity," Mr. Obama said.

"This report shows that some of its employees failed that test."

At the Justice Department, the words were just as negative, as Attorney General Eric Holder surprised reporters by announcing that he had asked the FBI to investigate the IRS for any possible criminal conduct.

Holder said the targeting of political groups on the Republican side was "outrageous and unacceptable."

He will testify on Wednesday on that issue - and more - before the House Judiciary Committee.

"We are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations," Holder added.

In Congress, the reaction continued to be one of outrage in the Capitol, especially from Republicans, who accused the Obama Administration of using the power of the Executive Branch to strike out at the GOP.

"I don't think any of us want to see an agency of government being used to target our fellow citizens because of their views on a political issue," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio and others have called for the acting head of the IRS to be fired; so far, Steven Miller remains in that job, and is scheduled to testify on Friday before a U.S. House panel.

"What we know for sure is that IRS personnel responsible for granting tax exemptions targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who again vowed to get answers on who allowed those reviews to go forward.

Meanwhile, other groups and individuals on the Republican side of the ledger started to come forward with stories of what they believe was unfair treatment by the IRS - like Franklin Graham, son of the legendary Billy Graham.

Franklin Graham wrote a letter to President Obama this week which accused the IRS of auditing his father's charities for one purpose - political pressure.

"In light of what the IRS admitted to on Friday, May 10, 2013, and subsequent revelations from other sources, I do not believe the IRS audit of our two organizations last year is a coincidence - or justifiable," Graham wrote in a letter that was put on line by Politico.

As for the internal report on the IRS activities related to Republican-leaning organizations, the report rattled off a number of errors by the unit that deals with tax-exempt applications, like this list of questions that were judged to be irrelevant to the IRS decision-making process:

1 - Requests the names of donors.

2 - Requests a list of all issues that are important to the organization and asks that the organization indicate its position regarding such issues.

3 - Requests 1) the roles and activities of the audience and participants other than members in the activity and 2) the type of conversations and discussions members and participants had during the activity.

4 - Asks whether the officer, director, etc., has run or will run for public office.

5 - Requests the political affiliation of the officer, director, speakers, candidates supported, etc., or otherwise refers to the relationship with identified political party–related organizations.

6 - Requests information regarding employment, other than for the organization, including hours worked.

7 - Requests information regarding activities of another organization – not just the relationship of the other organization to the applicant.

You can read the full report at the web site of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.