Sen. Rubio introduces bill banning IRS political targeting
by Bethany Blankley
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Congressman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) introduced the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination & Protection Act of 2013 on Tuesday that would amend Title 18 of the U.S. Code, making it a crime for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to discriminate against anyone (individual or group) based on their constitutionally protected rights of political speech and expression. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will introduce a similar legislation on Wednesday.
“Americans of all political beliefs have been rightly outraged by the revelation of the IRS’ efforts to target certain political organizations,” said Turner in a statement. “The fact that this could occur with little to no corrective action against those who seek to silence their fellow citizens is unacceptable. That’s why I’m taking immediate action and introducing this bill.”
IRS employees are already prohibited from discriminating against individuals and groups based on protected speech, but this bill would increase the penalty IRS employees could receive. If signed into law, employees, would face a fine of up to $5,000, five years in prison, or both.
This legislation is a swift response to facts reported on by the Associated Press that IRS officials were targeting conservative groups as early as June 2011 – at least nine months prior to when the IRS told lawmakers that no such targeting was occurring. An IRS official recently acknowledged that the agency had in fact flagged 75 conservative groups for scrutinized review because their names included “tea party” or “patriot.”
“A government organization like the IRS discriminating against political organizations is an outrageous abuse of power, and the American people have every right to demand answers and accountability,” Rubio said in a statement.
“Those responsible individuals should face all appropriate punishment available under current law, and all organizations and individuals who engage in political speech and expression should be protected against this kind of discriminatory behavior in the future. I commend Congressman Turner for championing this legislation in the House and hope our colleagues will join us in providing protections to deter this kind of governmental abuse from happening again.”
Rubio also sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew demanding the resignation of the current IRS Commissioner. “The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”