Top Republicans vowed to investigate the Internal Revenue Service following an acknowledgment by an IRS official Friday that the agency specifically targeted Tea Party organizations in 2012.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said the IRS’ acknowledgement was "not enough" and called on the White House to conduct a government-wide review "aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views."
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"Make no mistake, an apology won’t put this issue to rest," McConnell said in a statement. "Now more than ever we need to send a clear message to the Obama administration that the First Amendment is non-negotiable, and that apologies after an election year are not a sufficient response to what we now know took place at the IRS. This kind of political thuggery has absolutely no place in our politics."
Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said the committee will "hold responsible officials accountable for this political retaliation."
"The fact that Americans were targeted by the IRS because of their political beliefs is unconscionable," Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) said in a joint statement.
The Associated Press reported Friday morning that IRS official Lois Lerner admitted the agency targeted groups who used words such as "tea party" or "patriot" in their tax documents.
The IRS subjected those groups to stricter scrutiny and lengthy questionnaires, according to several organizations.
"Mistakes were made initially, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan rationale," the IRS said in a statement following the report.
The American Civil Liberties Union also condemned the IRS’ actions.
"Even the appearance of playing partisan politics with the tax code is about as constitutionally troubling as it gets," said Michael Macleod-Ball, chief of staff at the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "With the recent push to grant federal agencies broad new powers to mandate donor disclosure for advocacy groups on both the left and the right, there must be clear checks in place to prevent this from ever happening again."