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Pennsylvania lawmakers get chance to grill IRS acting chief

Published by Tracie Mauriello on .

Five Pennsylvania lawmakers will have a seat at the table during a pair of hearings aimed at finding out why the Internal Revenue Service singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

U.S.  Reps. Mike Kelly, R-Buter; Allyson Schwartz, D-Philadelphia and Jim Gerlach, R-Chester, serve on the House Ways & Means Committee, which is scheduled to meet Friday with Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller and J. Russell George, treasury inspector general for tax administration.

Mr. Miller resigned over the scandal but is expected to stay on at least through next week. 

Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., will get their chance to ask questions Tuesday at a similar hearing of the Senate Finance Committee onTuesday, Committee meets, but they’re already demanding answers.

Mr. Toomey, along with other Republicans on the committee, today asked Mr. George to investigate whether the IRS illegally disclosed conservative groups’ confidential applications for tax-exempt status, which appeared on the investigative journalism website ProPublica. The senators want to know who disclosed the documents, whether anyone was disciplined and more.

Mr. Casey, meanwhile, is asking for swift changes to IRS procedures.

“The American people should expect impartiality and fairness from their government. In this instance the IRS fell far short of that standard,” Mr. Casey said. “And the administration must move swiftly to ensure all responsible parties are held fully accountable.”

In announcing the House hearing, Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said the public expects the IRS to be apolitical in enforcing tax laws.

“News that the agency admits it targeted American taxpayers based on politics is both astounding and appalling,” he said. “The Committee on Ways & Means will get to the bottom of this practice and ensure it never takes place again.”

Mr. Kelly said wants to know why it took the IRS so long to admit employees targeted conservative groups, and he wants to know why they did it.

"What was the purpose of it? What were they looking for? Was there a smoking gun?" he asked. "Nothing strikes fear in the heart of the American people like the IRS phoning you. I don't know of anything more intimidating." 

The committee’s ranking Democrat, Sander Levin of Michigan, said organizations requesting tax exempt status deserve unbiased treatment and should not be singled out because of their political views. 

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