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Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said on Wednesday that somebody deserves go to jail as the investigation begins into why the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative-leaning groups.
“My question isn’t about who’s going to have to resign, my question is who’s going to jail over this scandal,” Boehner told reporters.
The House Ways and Means Committee has already said it will hold hearings — the first scheduled for Friday — into whether the IRS in Ohio flagged tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for federal tax-exempt status.
Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told reporters on Wednesday his panel will also investigate the allegations, with a hearing scheduled next Wednesday. Boehner’s comments signify that the oversight will be thoroughly backed by leadership.
“There are laws in place to prevent this type of abuse. Someone made a conscious decision to harass and to hold up these requests for tax exempt status. I think we need to know who they are and how they violated the law,” Boehner said.
Separately, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced Wednesday that his committee has begun its investigation of the matter, with a hearing set for Tuesday.
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., R-La., chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, joined Boehner to tell reporters he is eager to investigate what he said has been rumored for years.
“They’ve now been caught red-handed,” Boustany said. “This culture of rot and abuse at the IRS is going to be rooted out.”
Boehner also said he is interested in learning more about the revaluation that the Department of Justice seized phone records of Associated Press journalists in order to find CIA leakers.
“I’m very interested in it and I’m hopeful that we’re going to get a clear explanation for why such unprecedented action was taken,” Boehner said. “it befuddles me that there can be some justification that would allow them to infringe on the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
Emma Dumain contributed to this report.