Attorney General orders probe into IRS targeting groups
Attorney General Eric Holder says he's ordered a Justice Department investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups for extra tax scrutiny.
He said the FBI was coordinating with the Department of Justice to see if any laws were broken.
At a news conference Tuesday at the Justice Department, Holder called the practice, in his words, "Outrageous and unacceptable."
Holder's comments come a day after President Barack Obama said that, if the agency intentionally targeted such groups, "that's outrageous and there's no place for it."
Steven Miller, the IRS acting chief, has acknowledged "a lack of sensitivity" in the agency's screenings of political groups seeking tax-exempt status and insisted those mistakes won't be repeated.
Meantime, there are calls for an independent prosecutor to look into whether the IRS singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
It all happened leading up to the 2012 election, which is why some of those targeted insist it's was politically motivated.
A draft report from the inspector general of tax administration says low-level IRS employees in Cincinnati singled out some 300 conservative groups identifying themselves as "patriots" or "tea party."
"It's politically motivated, plain and simple," said Tammy Blair, Tea Party activist.
"This is not Republican. It's not Democrat. It's wrong to do," said Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Patriots.
The president agreed:
"I've got no patience with it. I will not tolerate it. And we'll make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this," said Obama.
"I don't frankly trust the administration to do its own investigation. To have legitimacy, congress needs to conduct its own investigation," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Tea Party leaders want an independent prosecutor:
"We want it to be something that's non-partisan. We want to make sure that the Republicans are kept honest too," said Teri Adams, president of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association.
A draft report shows the top lawyer at the IRS was briefed on the investigation two years ago. The White House insists it first learned late last month.
Congress got a closed briefing Monday.
"Heads really should roll. this is very serious," said Sen. Collins.
The acting IRS commissioner and the inspector general writing the report testify at a House hearing Friday.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is calling on the IRS commissioner to resign and introduced a bill that would require the government to fire any IRS employee who willfully violates taxpayer rights.