WASHINGTON (May 10, 2013)--The Internal Revenue Service is apologizing for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional review during the 2012 election to see if any were violating their tax-exempt status.
Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional review.
Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.
Many conservative groups complained during the election that the IRS was harassing them, asking an inordinate number of questions to justify their tax-exempt status.
Certain tax-exempt charitable groups can conduct political activities, but it cannot be their primary activity.
“Today’s revelation that the IRS targeted average Americans using taxpayer dollars solely for disagreeing with them politically is completely unacceptable from this Administration," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn,R-Texas, said.
“Partisan politics have consistently characterized this White House, and the Administration must take immediate disciplinary action and ensure American citizens are not subject to this type of Orwellian persecution again," he said.