Published May 13, 2013
A Republican congressman plans to introduce a bill Monday that would make it a crime -- punishable by jail time -- for an IRS agent to target groups based on their political beliefs.
The bill was drafted after the agency acknowledged Friday that it singled out Tea Party and other conservative organizations for additional scrutiny. According to documents obtained by Fox News, the practice may have been in the works as early as 2010.
Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said his bill is aimed at preventing this from happening again.
"Americans of all political beliefs have been rightly outraged by the revelation of the IRS' efforts to target certain political organizations," he said in a statement.
"Americans should not have to wonder if their government is actively looking to subvert them or their political views."
Turner's bill would explicitly prohibit discriminating against any group on the basis of political speech or beliefs. The bill would drastically increase the punishment for any IRS official who violates this -- with up to a $5,000 fine and/or five years in prison.
Currently, the maximum punishment for IRS employees who discriminate is for them to be fired.
Turner is among a slew of lawmakers looking to crack down on the IRS in the wake of the admission. With an inspector general report expected to provide more details about the program, Republicans are calling for hearings and additional investigation.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., on Monday went so far as to call for the resignation of the IRS commissioner.
"It is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people's confidence under the current leadership," Rubio said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. "Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS commissioner's resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public."
The acting IRS commissioner is Steven Miller, though much of the scrutiny has centered on prior commissioner Douglas Shulman, who had previously claimed no groups were targeted.