It is hard to know which is worse: The IRS was singling out conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny or agency officials' refusal for more than a year to admit it was happening.
IRS officials say in 2010 - nearly a year earlier than the agency later admitted it happened - low-level employees in the agency's Cincinnati, Ohio, office began flagging conservative groups, especially groups with "Tea Party," "Patriot" or "9/12 Project" for additional and more bureaucratic scrutiny during the tax-exempt reviews.
Their action came during the time leading up to the 2012 U.S. Presidential election, and show many in the IRS were at the very least, were trying to embarrass conservative groups that provided support - and money - in their efforts to defeat President Barack Obama. Many of the conservative groups were asked for lists of donors to their organizations.
After many complaints from the tea party groups about this extra scrutiny they were receiving, in March 2012 members of Congress questioned IRS officials about this illegal political harassment. IRS officials repeatedly denied targeting conservative groups.
However, last week IRS acting chief Steven Miller was forced to acknowledge his agency was doing this very thing - and he and other officials had long known about it even during the time they were denying it to members of Congress.
This is outrageous behavior from an agency that has a reputation for outrageous and bullying behavior.
What needs to happen is those "low-level employees" in Cincinnati should be fired. Then, the investigation should begin climbing the ladder and all IRS employees involved - including Miller - should be fired.
This is clearly an abuse of power by the IRS, and cleaning house is the only way to make certain this outrageous behavior is stopped once and for all.