FBI opens criminal probe of IRS for targeting conservative groups

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  1. Prinnctopher's Belt

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    FBI opens criminal probe of tax agency, audit cites disarray

    By David Ingram and Matt Spetalnick
    WASHINGTON | Wed May 15, 2013 1:06am EDT

    (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he had ordered the FBI to open a criminal probe in a growing scandal over the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative political groups for extra tax scrutiny.

    Holder's announcement came about four hours before an inspector general's report on the IRS portrayed the tax agency as plagued by disarray and "insufficient oversight" during its struggles to review the cases of hundreds of advocacy groups that claimed they should be tax exempt.


    The audit, which drew some backlash from IRS officials, also underscored what the agency had acknowledged last Friday: that the IRS had used "inappropriate criteria" for evaluating tax-exempt groups, in part by singling out scores of conservative Tea Party and "Patriot" organizations for increased scrutiny.

    The report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration sharply criticized the way the IRS had screened the conservative groups, citing poor management and processing delays. The report suggested that such practices could damage public confidence in the agency.

    The criteria used to target the conservative groups "gives the appearance that the IRS is not impartial in conducting its mission," the report said. However, the report stopped short of saying the IRS actions had been politically motivated.

    For President Barack Obama - who late on Tuesday said the report showed that the IRS had failed to apply the law fairly in dealing with conservative groups - the revelations have added to a sense of a White House under siege.

    Republicans continue to bash the Obama administration's handling of the attack last year on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. And on Monday, Obama's Justice Department came under bipartisan fire for seizing phone records of journalists from the Associated Press as part of a wide-ranging criminal probe into intelligence leaks.

    In Washington on Tuesday, the IRS case appeared to have the most potency, as lawmakers and administration officials alike described the symbolic and legal importance of having a non-partisan tax agency that Americans can trust.

    Full story continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/15/us-usa-irs-idUSBRE94E02J20130515
     
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