WASHINGTON — At least two congressional panels are planning more hearings next week on the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. Underscoring how the IRS controversy is spreading, 25 tea party and conservative groups filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday against the government, saying the IRS illegally obstructed their efforts.
When Congress returns from a weeklong recess on Monday, Danny Werfel is scheduled to appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee in his first congressional testimony since becoming acting IRS commissioner last week. Also appearing will be J. Russell George, the Treasury Department inspector general whose report detailed the IRS tactics.
Florida Republican Rep. Ander Crenshaw, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees financial services and general government, said he wants to make sure Americans are treated fairly, whatever their political beliefs.
On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee plans a hearing with groups targeted by the IRS. The panel did not identify which organizations would testify.
Meanwhile, the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal organization, brought the lawsuit on behalf of the groups in U.S. District Court in Washington.
The suit accuses the Obama administration of using a "comprehensive, pervasive, invidious and organized scheme" to deny tax-exempt status based on groups' political views. It seeks unspecified monetary damages and asks that the 10 groups still seeking the status be granted it.
Other legal action is also being taken by other conservative groups around the country.