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October 7, 2015

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Nevada senators react to IRS targeting of conservative groups

Circulating snippets of a yet-to-be-released report fueled a sharply escalating sense of scandal in Washington, D.C., on Monday, as indications that the Internal Revenue Service had been singling out conservative groups prompted rebukes from officials all the way up to the White House.

In the Nevada delegation, there’s some diversity of opinion as to what the appropriate reaction ought to be.

For Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, a Republican, the response was swift and sharp: Make everybody, all the way up to the secretary of the Treasury, give a reckoning of how and why the IRS targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny.

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Dean Heller

“I request that you immediately call up Treasury Secretary (Jack) Lew, Acting IRS Commissioner (Steve) Miller and other IRS staff involved in this case to testify,” Heller wrote in a letter to Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate’s Finance Committee, and Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. “It is imperative that the IRS operate with the utmost integrity as a politically neutral agency, not as a government bully.”

But Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat, cautioned against a rush to judgment.

“These allegations are, of course, very troubling. … Targeting any group based on its political stance is completely inappropriate,” Reid said Monday. “We will get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, no one should jump to conclusions.”

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In this Feb. 26, 2013, file photo, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Barack Obama will meet Friday with the top leaders in the House and Senate to discuss what to do about automatic cuts to the federal budget, White House and congressional leaders said.

According to various reports, an IRS official already admitted last week that the IRS used keywords “Tea Party” and “patriot” to find tax-exempt status applications to review but stressed that the motivation was not to single out political groups.

Baucus already has scheduled a hearing into the matter for Friday, at which Acting IRS Commissioner Miller and Treasury Department Inspector General J. Russell George will testify.

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