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Johnson, Thune, Noem react to IRS scandal

Posted: Friday, May 17th, 2013

HURON — Internal Revenue Service employees responsible for targeting conservative, nonprofit organizations must be held accountable, members of South Dakota’s congressional delegation said.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., went a step farther, calling for the resignation of Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.

Late in the day, President Obama announced Miller’s resignation. He also said new safeguards will be put in place and that the administration will work with both parties in Congress to fix the problems.

Time and again, it appears Miller and the agency deliberately misled the public by claiming there was no special scrutiny of tea party groups, Thune said in a Wednesday conference call.

While he said he doesn’t know the motivation behind it, Thune said it comes down to incompetence in the least and breaking the law at most.

Miller pointed to two “rogue” employees in the Cincinnati office as being primarily responsible for overly aggressively dealing with tea party requests for tax-exempt status, according to a CNN report.

“Politicization by the IRS is simply unacceptable,” Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said in a statement.

“Americans expect and demand a neutral IRS,” he said. “All of those involved need to be held accountable for their wrong doing.”

He said the Department of Justice has rightly started a criminal investigation and the Senate has begun hearings “so we can get to the bottom of this mess and punish those responsible.”

A report released Tuesday confirmed that top IRS officials knew about the agency’s harassment of conservative groups for over a year before it was made public, Thune said.

“The report indicates that the abuse of power in targeting certain Americans went on for at least an 18-month period, and any IRS official who knew about this misconduct but remained silent should be fired immediately,” he said in a news release.

Republicans are also taking a jab at the White House, with Thune saying that for an administration that claims to be the most transparent in history, its credibility gap continues to grow at an alarming rate.

That gap is also apparent in two other administration headaches – the ongoing controversy over the Benghazi terrorist attacks last September and the revelation that the government gathered phone records of reporters with The Associated Press.

The Obama administration is developing a growing credibility problem, Thune said.

“But I think it’s a problem with government when it gets so big,” he said. “It’s hard to hold government accountable.”

Thune is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the IRS.

A timely and thorough investigation is needed to ensure such behavior doesn’t happen again, he said. No individual organization should fear being singled out because of political beliefs, he said.

“The power to tax is one of the strongest powers the government has, and it should never be taken lightly or become a political tool,” Noem said in a statement.

“The president should take responsibility for his administration and fire the IRS commissioner,” she said.

Noem said she has cosponsored legislation that will make it a crime to conduct politically motivated discrimination.

For the complete article see the 05-16-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 05-16-2013 paper.

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