U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., the newest member of the Senate Finance Committee, today said he believes crimes were committed in the controversial targeting of conservative non-profit groups by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. But Casey warned that members of Congress should "act responsibly" and not use the scandal for political gain.
The Finance Committee, which has oversight for the IRS, will hold a hearing Tuesday about the scandal. Casey joined the committee on Feb. 12 after U.S. Sen. John Kerry resigned to become Secretary of State. Casey's Republican colleague in Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, is also on the committee.
Casey said he wants to know how the IRS office in Cincinnati started targeting Tea Party and Patriot groups using "inappropriate criteria" and what will be done to prevent such use of a "political point of view" at the agency in the future. His main concern: "What measure of accountability" will be used.
"I would argue this misconduct rises to the level of unlawful activity," said Casey, who said the most disturbing part of a report prepared by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration was that IRS employees in Cincinnati returned to using the criteria after being told to stop by agency officials.
Toomey, in an afternoon conference call with reporters, said he wants to know who in the IRS made the decision to use the politically-based criteria to examine non-profit applications. He also wants to know who decided to resume using the criteria after being told to stop by IRS officials.
"This should not be a partisan concern," Toomey said. "Every American should be concerned. I would be equally outraged if the IRS was doing this to liberal organizations."