WASHINGTON – The IRS used “inappropriate” political criteria when it singled out conservative groups for scrutiny over an 18-month span, an inspector concluded in a report Tuesday.
As the inspector general issued his 54-page report to Congress, the White House denied involvement in the affair, and the report itself concluded that key decisions on the policy of scrutinizing the groups seeking tax-exempt status were made within the Internal Revenue Service.
Attorney General Eric Holder said he had also ordered an investigation into the federal tax authority’s treatment of tea party groups to see if it had violated any criminal laws, as Republicans seized on the scandal as possible evidence of an egregious abuse of power by the administration.
The report did not explicitly mention acts of criminality, but highlighted an overly ambitious review of applications from groups that could be seen as seeking the defeat of President Barack Obama and his Democrats in the 2012 elections.
“Early in calendar year 2010, the IRS began using inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status to review for indications of significant political campaign intervention,” the report said. “Although the IRS has taken some action, it will need to do more so that the public has reasonable assurance that applications are processed without unreasonable delay in a fair and impartial manner in the future.”