The Internal Revenue Service scandal took center stage in one U.S. senator’s conference call with reporters on Wednesday. Responding to the revelations about the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups for audits, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said his office in investigating cases in the Show-Me state. Click to hear Blunt:
Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation. An inspector general’s report this week criticized the agency for using “inappropriate criteria” in evaluating advocacy groups seeking tax-exempt status. The IRS is accused of targeting groups with the words “tea party” and “patriot” in their names.
Citing the report, Blunt called for firings earlier in the week. “IRS Commissioner Steve Miller needs to step down or be removed,” Blunt said. “He knows if these reports are true or not.” Miller resigned late Wednesday amid the controversy.
In addition to Sen. Blunt, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., have condemned the agency’s actions. “People should be fired for this serious breach of public trust,” McCaskill said Monday. “We don’t do this in America.”
Congressional Republicans are also furious. In an earlier news conference, GOP House Speaker John Boehner asked — “Who’s going to jail?” In a House hearing, Attorney General Eric Holder vowed to “follow the facts” and said those responsible will be held accountable. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell accused the Obama administration of an “abuse of power.” He said the federal government should not be used to “quiet the critics” of the administration. Utah Republican Orrin Hatch argued that the IRS instills “more fear in the hearts of people” than any other federal agency. Hatch said the issue will be thoroughly investigated in Congress. South Dakota Republican John Thune insisted that the administration has a credibility gap that is “growing at an alarming rate.”
President Obama has pledged to work with Congress to reform IRS rules so similar problems do not occur in the future. He is expected to have more to say on the matter during a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday.
Information from the Office of U.S. Senator Roy Blunt
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) issued the following statement Wednesday evening after President Barack Obama announced that Acting Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Steven Miller has resigned:
“I’ve repeatedly called for Steven Miller’s departure and I’m glad he finally stepped down. However, this is only a start. I’ll keep demanding that President Obama work with Congress to fully investigate the IRS scandal, restore transparency and accountability in the government, and prevent these types of shameful activities from happening again.”