House questioning IRS staffers in Ohio

House lawmakers are intensifying their investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups, congressional sources said.

Investigators from the House Ways and Means and Oversight committees were interviewing two staffers from the IRS’s Cincinnati office this week as the panels seek information about how and why the targeting began, according to an aide.

A separate congressional source said that four interviews in all would be held over the next two weeks with staffers from the Ohio office that played an outsized role in the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

The two panels have already interviewed Holly Paz, a Washington official in the IRS’s exempt organizations division. Along with Paz, House Oversight requested two weeks ago that four staffers in Cincinnati — Joseph Herr, Liz Hofacre, Gary Muthert and John Shafer — also be made available.

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Top Republicans on both the Ways and Means and Oversight panels previously said they planned to use the current Memorial Day recess to conduct further interviews for their investigation in preparation for hearings in June.

At least two of the interviews will happen before Ways and Means holds its second hearing on the matter on Tuesday — potentially giving committee members added information ahead of the testimony from conservative groups who faced the extra scrutiny from the IRS.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) made repeated use of Paz’s testimony during the last hearing on the IRS last week, noting that Paz had said that she sat in on a number of interviews conducted for a Treasury audit that outlined the targeting of conservative groups.

Issa, the panel’s ranking member, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and others on the committee said that raised questions about the report from Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration.

Paz also took part in an internal investigation into the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups, which found similar findings to the Treasury audit in May 2012 — roughly a year before the inspector general released his report.

CNN first reported on the scheduled interviews on Thursday.