House GOP steps up pressure on IRS

In all, Camp said, conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status were asked three times as many questions as progressive outfits. Camp also noted that the IRS had handed over less than 3 percent of the roughly 65 million pages worth of documents requested by his committee so far.

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Separately on Tuesday, Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) accused the agency of cooperating even less – releasing some 0.019 percent of documents – and standing in the way of congressional oversight.

Issa and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told Danny Werfel, the IRS’s interim leader, in a letter that what the agency has handed over was excessively redacted, and had stopped an agency official, Cindy Thomas, from giving the committee needed documents.

“We are deeply disturbed that the IRS would use the pretext of protecting confidential taxpayer information to delay, in bad faith, the committee’s receipt of material relevant to this important inquiry,” Issa and Jordan wrote.

The two Republicans added that, unless the IRS became more cooperative, they would find other ways to compel the agency to be more helpful. Those methods could include the committee's subpoena power.

The new push from Camp and Issa comes as the House prepares to vote on a slew of IRS-related measures this week, in an attempt to keep attention focused on the agency as Congress goes into recess.

Camp's release was based on an examination of 104 groups with either "conservative," "Tea Party" or other right-leaning identifiers, and seven "progressive" groups. All seven of those groups received approval after getting an average of under five questions from the IRS, according to Ways and Means. 

Conservative groups got approved at under a 50 percent rate, after facing 15 questions. More than 50 of the conservative groups either withdrew their applications or have yet to hear a final verdict from the IRS.

Rep. Sandy Levin (Mich.), the top Democrat at Ways and Means, said Camp's figures were merely the latest example of Republicans releasing selective information. 

“The overwhelming fact remains that Republicans will do everything they can to deflect attention from their inability to do almost anything – a record that has earned them historically low ratings from the American public," Levin said in a statement.

On Monday, Issa and Jordan also charged that the IRS had given additional scrutiny during the 2012 election to conservative groups that had already been granted tax-exempt status. The GOP lawmakers asked Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, who released the report outlining the targeting of Tea Party groups, to investigate further.

Democrats also have accused Issa of selectively choosing quotes from interviews with IRS officials to leave the wrong impression about what the congressional investigation is finding. Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Levin, among others, have also said that nothing discovered yet suggests that the White House was involved in the targeting, and say that the IRS tripped up liberal groups as well.

Camp and Levin both pressed the IRS to speed up the delivery of documents last week. But while Camp said the IRS response was starting to look like obstruction, Levin told reporters he saw no signs of political motivation.

This post was updated at 7:42 p.m.