Tea Party leaders refused to accept an apology from the IRS Friday in which the agency acknowledged that it inappropriately flagged conservative groups for additional review during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
Jenny Beth Martin, national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, said she wants to see resignations over what she called the “disturbing, illegal and outrageous abuse of government power.”
Republican lawmakers also seized on the acknowledgment, after having complained about the suspected harassment more than a year ago. Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell called for a “government-wide review” to assure “these thuggish practices” are not in use elsewhere. House Republican Leader Eric Cantor later said the House would investigate.
Reaction was swift and harsh after Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups, acknowledged the issue at a conference Friday sponsored by the American Bar Association.
She confirmed that organizations were singled out because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for tax-exempt status.
In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, she said.
“That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate,” Lerner said. “The IRS would like to apologize for that.”
Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The Associated Press that no high-level IRS officials knew about the practice. She did not say when they found out.