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By NWV News Writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
August 2, 2013

Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Monday began forcefully urging the Inspector General's Office at the Treasury Department to investigate additional misconduct allegations leveled at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

GOP leaders and members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are seeking an investigation of new allegations of politically-motivated targeting by the Internal Revenue Service. The latest allegations are related to existing Tea Party and conservative groups that had received tax-exempt status but were singled out for additional scrutiny not exercised by IRS agents for liberal-left or Obama-supporting non-profit organizations, according to Republican lawmakers.

“The totality of your ‘targeting’ investigation along with evidence obtained by the Committee points to the fact that the IRS may have selected certain conservative organizations for additional scrutiny after the IRS already approved their tax-exempt status,” Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, wrote in their letter sent to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George on Monday.

Issa and Jordan claim in their five-page letter to IG George that, among other allegations, there apparently is inappropriate treatment of conservative groups by IRS officials.

For example, the Leadership Institute, an organization that has been in existence since 1970 was victimized by the IRS.

In audits in 2011 and 2012, the Leadership Institute was required to turn over 23,430 pages of documents to the IRS at a cost of roughly $50,000. The letter notes that Leadership Institute was asked “invasive questions, including requests for information about its interns and where they worked after their internships.”

The Leadership Institute's stated mission is to "increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process." To accomplish this, the Institute "identifies, recruits, trains, and places conservatives in government, politics, and the media."

In another example, the IRS focused on the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute (CBLPI). Officials at that organization claim that the treatment that conservative group received by IRS amounted to “harassment.”

"Several leaders of 501(c)(3) groups find it fishy that they were audited by the IRS about the same time the agency increased scrutiny of applications from tea party and conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status," reports Seth McLaughlin at the Washington Times. "The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute and the Family Research Council say they faced IRS audits over the past two years, each of them for the first time."

The president of CBLPI explained to House investigators that the IRS "audit took the greater part of 2011 and cost tens of thousands of dollars.” The Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, like many Tea Party applicants targeted by the IRS during the same time frame, was asked for a list of contributors and the amounts of their donations.

According to the IRS, a division of the Exempt Organizations Examination Unit known as the Review of Operations Unit (ROO) conducts reviews of organizations, “when the IRS has concerns about the past, present, or future activities of the organization but does not have sufficient cause to deny [tax] exemption.”

Issa, Jordan and committee members are also asking the IG to look into the possibility that Tea Party groups who had previously been approved for tax-exempt status might have been automatically flagged for higher levels of scrutiny by the ROO unit.

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The letter notes that: "[A]ccording to evidence obtained by the Committee, the IRS considered referring Tea Party applications to the ROO unit as part of processing pending exemption applications filed by Tea Party groups.”

An IRS e-mail, recounting a summer 2011 meeting with Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations, specifically raised the use of ROO to follow-up on approved applications.

According to an e-mail, “One of the recommended actions is going to be to send ROO referrals for those cases that cause us concern resulting from organizations making changes after being questioned during our case development.”

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Issa and Jordan claim in their five-page letter to IG George that, among other allegations, there apparently is inappropriate treatment of conservative groups by IRS officials.