WASHINGTON (AP) - Top House Republicans are denouncing the Internal Revenue service for apparently targeting tea party groups ahead of the 2012 election.
The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.
But a draft report by the Treasury Department's inspector general's report obtained by The Associated Press says senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011.
Rep. Charles Boustany says the report raises a number of serious questions, including why the practice was allowed to how continue as long as it did. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's oversight subcommittee calls the actions "unethical" and "an outrageous abuse of power."
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp calls the IRS admission that it targeted Americans based on politics "shocking" and vowed to hold the agency accountable.
The national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots says the group is pleased Congress is investigating but must know "how high up the chain the cover-up goes."