The Republican National Committee on Wednesday sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Internal Revenue Service demanding the agency turn over any documents related to the targeting of Tea Party groups.
RNC chairman Reince Priebus said the move was triggered by Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the controversy, announcing she will invoke her Fifth Amendment rights at Wednesday's House Oversight Committee hearing about the scandal.
"As each day passes, Americans find ourselves with more questions about the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups and donors — and what the White House and Treasury Department knew and when,” Priebus said in a statement. “Because the administration refuses to be forthright with the American people, I instructed the RNC counsel’s office to file a FOIA request with the IRS to make the facts available for the public."
The request asks for all agency documents and correspondence between January 2010 and May 2012 that contain key phrases like "Tea Party" or "patriot." The committee has also asked for any other relevant documents related to the creation of targeting criteria, as well as any correspondence with Celia Roady, the Washington tax lawyer planted to ask Lerner about the scandal during a recent American Bar Association conference.
The RNC has also asked for any documents between the Treasury Department and White House that includes Tea Party-related terms, and any internal documents between top IRS officials about their congressional testimony about political targeting.
“The Obama administration may not be eager to address the important questions, but Americans deserve answers," Priebus said. "What other words were used to target organizations? Were taxpayers audited as a result of their political donations? How involved were employees at IRS headquarters, and how much did White House and Treasury officials communicate with the IRS?"
The committee has repeatedly hammered the White House over the IRS scandal, releasing a fundraising video last week urging supporters to "demand transparency."
The Democratic National Committee dismissed the FOIA request as a political ruse in a tweet from communications director Brad Woodhouse on Wednesday morning.
The White House has maintained it had no knowledge of the targeting as it occurred, and pledged to immediately address the issue. Last week, President Obama labeled the misconduct as "inexcusable" and announced acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller would resign.
This post was updated at 10:13 a.m.