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IRS apologizes for singling out conservative groups: How did it happen?

The IRS acknowledges it gave additional scrutiny to the tax-exemption applications of conservative groups. Top Republican lawmakers are calling for a White House investigation into the agency.

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Rep. Charles Boustany (R) of Louisiana told The Hill that he wanted the IRS to hand over the names of the employees involved with the matter.

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Staff writer

Allison Terry works on the web team at the Christian Science Monitor, coordinating online infographics. She contributes to the culture section and Global News blog, and previously reported and edited for the national news and cover page desks.

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“My greatest concern is what would have come from this blatant abuse of power if Ways and Means, as well as others, had not spoken up and stepped in to question the IRS about these activities,” said Representative Boustany, who brought up the issue in hearings of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight last year.

The IRS is an independent enforcement agency, with only two political appointees, said White House press secretary Jay Carney during a press conference Friday. The director during the time of the inappropriate activity – former Commissioner Douglas Shulman – was appointed by President George W. Bush.

“If this inappropriate activity did take place, the president would want it to be thoroughly investigated,” Mr. Carney said.

During the campaign, liberal groups thought that the IRS was not doing enough to review groups applying for tax-exempt status.

"That's the most interesting thing about this: They were actually doing it," Kenneth Gross, a campaign-finance law expert and former counsel of the Federal Election Commission, told ABC News.

The IRS apology could affect future regulations of political, tax-exempt groups, said Nick Nyhart, president and CEO of Public Campaign in Washington, which advocates campaign-finance reform.

"There are legitimate questions to be asked about political groups that are hiding behind a 501(c)4 status," Mr. Nyhart said in a statement. "It's unfortunate a few bad apples at the IRS will make it harder for those questions to be asked without claims of bias."

• Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.


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