"We are concerned ... that congressional Republicans are wasting
taxpayer dollars and continuously using the (IRS) 'investigations'
for political purposes for the November election," two U.S. House of
Representatives Democrats said in a letter to IRS Commissioner John
U.S. representatives Sander Levin and Elijah Cummings in the letter
asked Koskinen to estimate how much time and money the IRS has spent
responding to investigators. There are six ongoing investigations of
the IRS, Koskinen has said.
The inquiries have to do with a controversy that erupted in mid-2013
about IRS scrutiny of applications for tax-exempt status from
conservative political groups tied to the Tea Party.
In a related development, House Democrats also raised concerns about
IRS Inspector General J. Russell George, who was appointed by
Republican President George W. Bush.
House Democrats have filed a complaint with a council of federal
government inspectors general against George, who heads the office
of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an IRS
A spokeswoman for TIGTA said in a statement: "Inspector General
George received a copy of the letter sent to the Integrity committee
and is in the process of reviewing its contents."
For months, the IRS has been caught in partisan crossfire over the
agency's worst scandal in years. It burst into view in May 2013 when
a senior IRS executive issued a public apology for what she called
inappropriate scrutiny applied by IRS staff to some organizations
applying for tax-exempt status.
The apology triggered furious accusations by congressional
Republicans that the IRS was deliberately targeting conservatives
for unfair treatment. The Obama administration has said there is no
evidence of political corruption at the agency.
[to top of second column]
At a House hearing earlier this week, Koskinen said the IRS has 150
staffers working to respond to the investigations of the IRS's
missteps last year.
A May 2013 TIGTA report about the IRS's tax-exempt application
scrutiny prompted the agency official's apology.
Democrats alleged in their 22-page complaint that the May 2013
report was flawed, and asked for an investigation into George's
"independence, ethics, competence and quality control."
The Democrats' complaint was sent to a non-regulatory group of other
U.S. inspectors general who can make only recommendations. George is
a lifetime political appointment who can only be removed by the
"The Inspector General's May 14 (2013) audit was fundamentally
flawed," said U.S. Representative Levin on Friday, adding he
supported the complaint filed against George.
"The Inspector General's testimony before Congress has been
misleading and his handling of the audit report caused concern from
the very beginning," said Levin, the top Democrat on the House
tax-writing committee that oversees the IRS.
(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Matthew Lewis)
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