Updated 5:52 pm | House Republicans are seizing on the IRS admission that personnel improperly targeted tea party groups for scrutiny, with Speaker John A. Boehner drawing a connection to abuses of the past.
“The admission by the Obama administration that the Internal Revenue Service targeted political opponents echoes some of the most shameful abuses of government power in 20th-century American history," Boehner said in a statement Friday.
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., is leading the push through his role as chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight. The Louisiana Republican has already sent a letter to acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller seeking all agency correspondence relating to the exact terms "conservative," "tea party" and "patriot."
Boustany noted that the Ways and Means panel already has an investigation under way.
"My greatest concern is what would have come from this blatant abuse of power if Ways and Means, as well as others, had not spoken up and stepped in to question the IRS about these activities," Boustany said in a statement. "The IRS’s 'too little too late' response is unacceptable, and I will continue to work to ensure there are protections in place so no American, regardless of political affiliation, has their right to free speech threatened by the IRS."
Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., lent their voices in support of the investigatory efforts
"The IRS cannot target or intimidate any individual or organization based on their political beliefs. The House will investigate this matter," Cantor said in a statement.
"House Republicans have made oversight of federal agencies a top priority on behalf of the American people, and I applaud the work that members such as Charles Boustany, Darrell Issa and Jim Jordan have done to bring this issue to light," Boehner said. "I also strongly support Sen. [Mitch] McConnell’s call for a transparent, government-wide review to ensure similar practices are not happening elsewhere in the federal bureaucracy."
Earlier Friday, McConnell, the Senate minority leader, called for an investigation to make sure there aren't "thuggish practices" happening within the government.
Update: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday that he believes the IRS inspector general is already investigating the matter.
"We certainly find the actions taken, as reported, to be inappropriate," Carney said, adding that the White House "fully expects the investigation to be thorough."