Rep. Vern Buchanan said Monday that the administration’s apology last week for tea party targeting wasn’t good enough, and said “heads should roll” at the IRS.
The Florida Republican, who is chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees the tax agency’s operations, said he was particularly stunned that former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner has still avoided prosecution, now that the government has said she “failed” to stop the targeting or to alert her supervisors about it.
“Lerner betrayed the nation’s trust yet managed to avoid prosecution,” he said. “Heads should roll and people should be held accountable for this gross abuse of power.”
The Justice Department, on behalf of the IRS, agreed to settlements with more than 450 groups snared in the tea party targeting. The government admitted to illegal targeting, asking intrusive questions and forcing unacceptable delays on hundreds of groups identified because of their perceived political leanings.
The government also agreed to pay $3.5 million to groups snared by the targeting.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the IRS owed the groups an apology, though the tax agency itself didn’t independently issue such a mea culpa.
In the settlement, the government specifically named Ms. Lerner as a problem — contradicting previous findings by the Obama Justice Department, which not only cleared her of wrongdoing but said she was a hero of the case, trying to end the targeting when she learned of it.
The new findings say the former head of the Exempt Organizations Division not only didn’t stop the targeting, but also hid it from her superiors at headquarters.
“The then-Director of the EO Division, Lois Lerner, first became aware that the IRS received applications from Tea Party groups as early as April or May 2010. For the next two years, Lerner failed to adequately manage the EO Division employees who processed these applications,” the settlement says.
“Moreover, Lerner failed to inform upper level IRS management of the serious delays in processing applications for tax-exempt status from Tea Party and other politically sensitive groups,” the agreement continues.
Neither Ms. Lerner nor her lawyer responded to requests for comment surrounding the settlement last week.
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