NRSC ramps up attacks on Dems over IRS scandal

The committee is asking 12 Democrats — most of whom are up for reelection or running for Senate in 2014 — why they haven't made more noise about the IRS's admission it targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny.

“Senate Democrats — who pressured the IRS to target conservative groups — have an obligation to defend the citizens and organizations that were bullied by their own federal government,” NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring said in a release.

Dick DurbinDick DurbinGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Wikileaks: Durbin pushed unknown Warren for Obama bank regulator The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE is a United States Senator, and that requires action not just hollow press releases — but he continues to hide behind them" reads one release targeting Durbin (D-Ill.)

The Republican committee includes four questions it wants Democrats to answer, including whether the targeted lawmaker will return campaign contributions from the IRS union, whether they believe Obama should apologize to groups that were targeted and whether they'd like an independent counsel to investigate the misconduct.

There has not yet been a concerted push from Republicans in Congress to appoint a special counsel to investigate the issue but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellPelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Reid: Groping accusations show Trump’s ‘sickness’ GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election MORE (R-Ky.) has indicated he's open to the idea.

Similar releases target 11 other Democrats. They include Sens. Mark WarnerMark WarnerPolicymakers face long road to financial technology regulation Liberal groups urge Schumer to reject Bayh for Banking gavel Why Yahoo's breach could turn the SEC into a cybersecurity tiger MORE (Va.), Mark BegichMark BegichTrump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide Ryan's victory trumps justice reform opponents There is great responsibility being in the minority MORE (Alaska), Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuTrump’s implosion could cost GOP in Louisiana Senate race Louisiana needs Caroline Fayard as its new senator La. Senate contender books seven-figure ad buy MORE (La.), Mark PryorMark PryorCotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Top Democrats are no advocates for DC statehood MORE (Ark.), Kay HaganKay HaganPhoto finish predicted for Trump, Clinton in North Carolina Are Senate Republicans facing an election wipeout? Clinton's lead in NC elevates Senate race MORE (N.C.), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenPodesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs Obama signs 'bill of rights' for rape survivors into law Four military options for Obama in Syria MORE (N.H.), Al FrankenAl FrankenGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Court ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Why Yahoo's breach could turn the SEC into a cybersecurity tiger MORE (Minn.) and Mark UdallMark UdallColorado GOP Senate race to unseat Dem incumbent is wide open Energy issues roil race for Senate Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE (Colo.) and Dick Durbin (Ill.) are all heading into reelection; Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerImmigration was barely covered in the debates GOP leaders advise members to proceed with caution on Trump Senate Dems demand answers from Wells Fargo over treatment of military MORE (N.Y.) will be up in 2016.

Also included in the attack are Reps. Gary Peters (Mich.) and Bruce BraleyBruce BraleyCriminal sentencing bill tests McConnell-Grassley relationship Trump's VP list shrinks Vernon wins Iowa House Dem primary MORE (Iowa), who have both announced they'll seek seats coming open because of retirements.

Schumer, Shaheen, Udall and Franken joined three other Democratic senators on a letter urging the IRS to do more to prevent political spending from tax-exempt nonprofits.

Democrats have fired back by pointing out that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has previously called for tougher IRS scrutiny for groups on both the left and right.

"No rational human being including Mitch McConnell thinks that Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers are operating social welfare organizations that deserve tax exempt status," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky. 

"However, Democratic Senators have been outspoken in their condemnation of what took place at the IRS."

In a Wednesday email to The Hill, DSCC Deputy Executive Director Matt Canter suggested Republicans were "overreaching" by continuing to hammer Democrats who have already all already condemned the IRS's actions.

Canter also noted warnings from other Republicans for lawmakers to avoid overreacting in their focus on the series of scandals that has plagued the Obama Administration over the past two weeks. He compared the potential fallout for Republicans to the 1998 election cycle.

After winning majorities in both the House and the Senate in 1994 and moving to enact more conservative policies, Republicans lost seats in 1998.

"Republican foolishness like this has many objective analysts wondering if 2014 could look like a repeat of the 1998 midterms," he said.

"Compared to today's GOP, a more moderate breed of Republican came into power in 1994, stormed the Bastille with unpopular policies that led to electoral defeats in the presidential year. They returned recognizing that their policies were disastrous for them politically, and promised to focus on jamming a President."

--This post was updated at 12:38 p.m. to reflect further comment from the DSCC.