A Nebraska Congressman is involved in the investigation of how the Internal Revenue Service handled requests for tax-exempt status from conservative groups.
Congressman Adrian Smith sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the IRS, and has held hearings on revelations that the agency placed conservative groups under extra scrutiny.
The IRS has confessed that it required extra documents, asked additional questions and took longer to approve the applications for tax exempt status for conservative groups, especially groups with “Tea Party”, “Patriot” and “9/12” in their name.
Outgoing IRS Chief Steven Miller appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee. He apologized for mistakes made and poor service provided. He claimed partisanship did not drive the policies.
When Smith’s turn came for questioning, he quizzed Miller about bias. Miller preferred the term “perceived bias”.
“The commissioner did acknowledge that many of these questions should not have been asked,” Smith tells Nebraska Radio Network. “What seems to be the fact is there was a pattern that questions of this nature were only asked of conservative groups.”
Some of the questions seemed out of line. IRS officials asked certain conservative groups for lists of their volunteers, books, even book reports written by members. In one case, it asked for the prayers recited by a pro-life group.
Smith says the IRS tolerated such questions for two years and has failed to act on an application from one conservative group that has been before it for three years.
“You know, the commissioner talked about poor customer service,” Smith says. “I think that is grossly understating and not describing the situation as it should be.”
Other Congressional committees have been investigating the IRS. The IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner, pleaded the 5th Amendment and refused to testify during a hearing by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]