House Oversight committee asks outspoken IRS agent to testify in public

The IRS field agent who has privately told congressional investigators that headquarters officials orchestrated the targeting of Tea Party groups, then tried to blame her and others at the agency’s Cincinnati office is being asked to testify in public Thursday, Fox News has learned.

Elizabeth Hofacre, of the Cincinnati Emerging Issues Unit, was asked to testify by the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, among several Capitol Hill panels looking into the scandal.

Hofacre did not return a call Monday asking whether she will testify, at what will be the committee's second public hearing on the matter.

In early May, IRS official Lois Lerner made public the agency had from 2010 through 2011 unfairly targeted Tea Party groups and other politically conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status.

Lerner, the director of the agency’s Exempt Organizations division, also said the targeting was limited to one or two agents in the Cincinnati office.

Hofacre characterized Lerner’s attempt to pin the targeting on the office as “a nuclear strike on us,” according to transcripts of interviews with her and others that were conducted this spring by the committee and reviewed in June by Fox News.

Lerner, the director of the agency’s Exempt Organizations division, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights when summoned to testify before the committee May 22 but is now seeking immunity in exchange for testimony.

Hofacre also told the committee that a couple or “rouge agents” never could have led the targeting because of the agency’s “really tight” control systems.

“It looked like that Lois Lerner was putting it on us,” said Hofacre, adding she was “appalled” and “infuriated” that Lerner thought the issue “would go away” when she dropped it on Cincinnati, according to the transcripts.

Fox News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.