White House spokesman Jay Carney and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell on Friday called for an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service after the federal agency apologized for placing heavier scrutiny on conservative groups than other applicants that applied for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012.
"What we know about this is of concern and we certainly find that the actions taken, as reported, to be inappropriate. And we would fully expect the investigation to be thorough and corrections to be made in a case like this," Carney said during his daily press briefing with reporters on Friday afternoon.
Carney emphasized that the IRS was an "independent" agency within the federal government and that any review would be handled by the Inspector General.
The IRS announced earlier on Friday that "mistakes were made" when reviewing applications of conservative groups that organized during the rise of the tea party movement between 2010 and 2012. IRS employees centralized its applicant review process in an office in Cincinnati, Ohio, after receiving an influx of requests to form tax-exempt "501(c)4" issue advocacy groups. Auditors intentionally singled out applications that included the words "tea party" or "patriot," the IRS said.
“The IRS recognizes we should have done a better job of handling the influx of advocacy applications,” an IRS statement read. “Mistakes were made initially, but they were in no way due to any political or partisan rationale.”
Earlier in the day, McConnell called for the White House to conduct its own review of the agency's behavior.
"Today, I call on the White House to conduct a transparent, government-wide review aimed at assuring the American people that these thuggish practices are not underway at the IRS or elsewhere in the administration against anyone, regardless of their political views," McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, said in a statement.
"But make no mistake, an apology won’t put this issue to rest," he continued. "Now more than ever we need to send a clear message to the Obama Administration that the First Amendment is non-negotiable, and that apologies after an election year are not a sufficient response to what we now know took place at the IRS. This kind of political thuggery has absolutely no place in our politics.”
In the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said on Friday that the chamber would conduct its own investigation of the IRS.