Ohio Sen. Portman skeptical of Obama in IRS targeting

CINCINNATI (AP) — Ohio’s Republican U.S. senator today questioned the suggestion by President Barack Obama that he didn’t know until recently that the IRS had been targeting conservative groups.

Sen. Rob Portman, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, told Ohio reporters in a conference call that questions about the Internal Revenue Service practices were raised early last year so it’s “an issue that’s been kicking around for over a year.”

The Democratic president has said he heard about the IRS practice last Friday when an agency official apologized publicly for “inappropriate” actions. After the ouster Wednesday of the acting IRS commissioner, Obama said he was angry about the targeting and won’t tolerate such behavior. The Justice Department is investigating.

Portman said that when the IRS was asked previously about complaints that tea party groups were being subjected to extra scrutiny, the agency wrote last year to senators that proper procedures were being followed.

A letter from the IRS dated April 26, 2012, states that the requests for more information were part of an effort to make sure applications were complete so the correct decision could be made on whether groups qualified for tax-exempt status.

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