Hatch, GOP push for answers in scandal; IRS chief resigns

May 15 2013 - 11:51pm

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Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
Congressman Chris Stewart, R-Farmington
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
IRS commissioner Steve Miller resigned Wednesday.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
Congressman Chris Stewart, R-Farmington
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah
IRS commissioner Steve Miller resigned Wednesday.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has taken the lead in writing a letter on behalf of Senate Republicans demanding President Barack Obama comply with congressional requests to investigate the Internal Revenue Services' targeting of conservative Tea Party groups.

In a letter he penned with Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Hatch said the American people desire to know what actions will be taken to ensure full accountability of those at the IRS who made policy decisions to target alleged Tea Party groups.

"The public's confidence in the IRS relies on fair and apolitical application of the law. Actions such as these undermine taxpayers' ability to trust its government to fairly implement the law," the letter states.

The letter points out the targeting disclosures were even more unsettling because they contradict prior statements made by the administration on the matter by acting IRS commissioner Steve Miller.

Hatch noted he had letters dating back to 2010 that deny political screens were used in the review process.

Hatch called on Miller to resign, and at a late Wednesday afternoon news conference, Obama announced Miller had stepped down.

In a subsequent release from Hatch's office, the senator said "the resignation of Steven Miller is a positive and important step as this agency struggles to try to regain the public's trust."

Hatch was among a long list of Republican senators who had called for Miller's ouster after revelations that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, joined the 45 GOP senators in the letter, but also issued a separate statement saying the scandal goes beyond just partisan fighting. He said the real lesson from the scandal is that bureaucracy is inherently dysfunctional, corrupt and intolerant regardless of who is in charge.

"Organizations and individuals that promote fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets, greater government accountability, and more local autonomy present a threat to the federal expansion that gives the IRS its power. It should not come as a surprise then that the culture of the IRS would promote enhanced security of these groups," he said.

Disgust over the IRS scandal goes beyond the Senate.

Congressman Chris Stewart, R-Farmington, said all Americans, not just Republicans, are outraged over the controversy. He said government agencies are being used to make political points.

"There are certain foundational things that Americans have to believe are taking place within our government, and when you see a breakdown of that foundation, it becomes a huge emotional issue for Americans.

"It clearly wasn't a coincidence that conservative groups were being targeted by the IRS. We now need to know why this happened and absolutely ensure that this never happens again," Stewart said.

Congressman Rob Bishop, R-Brigham City, had not weighed in on the issue officially to date, said his communications director, Melissa Subbotin.

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