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GOP Bill Would Expand Citizen Recording Rights in Wake of IRS Scandal

Blunt, Jenkins introduce bill that would allow subjects of IRS investigations to record interactions with officials

Sen. Roy Blunt in a Senate hearing on Jan. 31, 2013. (AP)
• July 25, 2013 6:04 pm

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Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) and Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R., Kan.) announced the introduction of legislation Thursday that would expand citizens’ rights to record their interactions with federal employees in the wake of the Internal Revenue Service's controversial scrutiny of conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status.

The Citizen Empowerment Act, filed in both the House and Senate, would permit individuals subject to an investigation to record their telephone or in-person conversations with any federal agency employee without prior notice. Current law only allows for recording in-person interviews in the initial stages of an IRS investigation and with 10 days advance notice.

"There’s plenty of reasons to believe the government has brought into question the trust people should have in their government," Blunt said on a conference call.

"This is the most effective way of leveling the playing field again between the government and individuals."

Members of conservative groups have told Congress that they were singled out for scrutiny by the IRS due to their political leanings. Supporters say passage of the proposal could bring to light more cases like that of Pro-Life Revolution President Ania Joseph, who was told by an IRS official that her group could not receive tax-exempt status if they protested at abortion clinics.

The measure will likely draw opposition from the Democratic-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama, who referred to the "phony scandals" of recent months in his economic speech Wednesday.

Published under: Congress, IRS, Roy Blunt