The document drip in the IRS probe continued on Tuesday, with top congressional Democrats releasing new information that they said definitively shows the tax agency applied heightened scrutiny to both progressive and conservative groups.
Democrats and Republicans have engaged in a series of strategic leaks since the probe of the Internal Revenue Service began months ago.
On Tuesday, newly released internal minutes from 2010 show that “progressive” was listed alongside “tea parties” as criteria that “should be flagged for review.”
In a letter to congressional Democrats, the IRS said that other, previously undisclosed, search terms used included “ACORN successors” and “Emerge” (there is a national progressive group, Emerge America). The auditor who set off the scandal has said that tax authorities had singled out tea-party groups for extra scrutiny.
“This new information should put a nail in the coffin of the Republican claims that the IRS’s actions were politically motivated or were targeted at only one side of the political spectrum,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The chairman of the panel, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, is unlikely to be deterred in his probe, however. Earlier this month, Issa said he was expanding his inquiry to look into possible improper coordinate between the tax agency and the Federal Election Commission.
“How many times have Congressional Democrats now tried to declare the IRS targeting investigation over?” said Issa spokesman Frederick Hill. He said there was “no comparison” between the agency’s treatment of Emerge and tea-party groups. “The fact that Emerge was initially approved for tax exempt status, but had it revoked after its improper behavior came to light, underscores how much more stringent the IRS was with Tea Party applicants.”