SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO AM) – Today, Outgoing Acting Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Steve Miller testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee on the targeting of conservative groups. Senator John Thune (R), South Dakota is still keeping a watchful eye on the situation as the Senate member who initially asked for Miller’s resignation.
“We started making inquiries into this a long time ago and what was clear to us; the IRS was misleading Congress in what they were doing,” said Thune. “It was clear that any organization with the words like Tea Party, patriot, constitution in the title were getting a higher level scrutiny, overreaching questions and getting their applications slow-walked. When we started looking into this, it was evident that the IRS was concealing this from the American public.”
Thune said there was anecdotal information out there about the IRS bullying conservative groups over a year ago. There was a little reporting of this in the conservative media, so we sent three letters to the IRS starting in March of 2012, another one June and August. We tried repeatedly to get answers from the IRS and they repeatedly stone-walled us. We knew there was something out there and where there was smoke, there was fire.
“A big government abusing its power and is willing to threaten, intimidate and bully people who disagree with them and give information to friends to use against these people is what I call Chicago Style Politics," said Thune. “There is a culture surrounding this that should be a great concern to people across this country. There needs to be some accountability and people need to know they shouldn’t be threatened for speaking out about their political beliefs.”
Thune said, they were writing this off as low level employees in the IRS doing all of this. If you look at the organizational chart at the IRS, you realize this involves a lot of people. There needs to be a full investigation into this and figure out if there were any laws broken.
“It appears there is a pattern in this administration and it appears to be a cultural thing that involves other agencies,” Said Thune. We need to know if this is a President who doesn’t know what is going on around him or if it is willful, intentional and being directed. The EPA took survey data from 80 – thousand farm and ranch families and gave it to left leaning environmental groups, and it was personal stuff like names, phone numbers, addresses and geographical coordinates of their farms to include 500 from South Dakota.”
“What concerns me most, this President has taken executive privilege and executive power to a whole new level,” said Thune. “It’s time to draw a line in the sand and say this is where it needs to stop and there needs; in this case with the IRS to have some consequence. If we continue to overlook or worse condone these tactics, you will just see more of them.”
Thune commented on the administration obtaining information from the Associated Press saying that they went about it in the same way. There are ways to obtain this information, but again they used secrecy and skirting the laws. This is another example of things piling up and these are the things we need to stop.
“We need to get the American People to weigh in on this,” said Thune. “When they do, it gets the attention of both parties."
Senator John Thune was a guest on the Greg Belfrage show, 16 May 2013.