Republicans step up pressure on IRS at scandal hearing… GOP links agency counsel’s office to targeting bias

House Republicans plan to ratchet up scrutiny of the IRS during a hearing Thursday morning where agency workers are expected to discuss the involvement of high-level officials in slowing down applications from Tea Party groups.

For the first time, the House oversight committee has invited two key agency officials to testify. Republican leaders of the committee claimed Wednesday that one of them recently revealed that the IRS chief counsel’s office — led by a political appointee — played a role, along with embattled IRS official Lois Lerner, in scrutinizing conservative groups.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the committee, told Fox News that agency officials in Cincinnati were taking their orders from Washington, and that the investigation needs to look next at both Lerner and the counsel’s office.
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GOP links IRS counsel’s office to targeting bias

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House Republicans charged Wednesday that the Internal Revenue Service’s chief counsel’s office and an agency official at the center of the targeting controversy helped delay applications for tax-exempt status from Tea Party groups.

In a letter, four leading GOP lawmakers said that the office of the IRS’s top lawyer took unique interest in Tea Party cases, reviewing applications even after a veteran specialist said there was enough information to make a decision.

Lois Lerner, the IRS official who first apologized for the targeting of Tea Party groups, made the request to send tax-exemption applications to the chief counsel’s office, according to an agency official.

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