As attention in Washington shifts to the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency, national Republicans are seeking to keep pressure on President Barack Obama's administration to explain their role in the IRS's targeting of conservative groups.
In a video released Monday, the Republican National Committee splices together clips of IRS officials testifying before Congress, appearing to withhold answers from lawmakers on who knew what about the targeting of groups applying for tax exempt status.
"Why didn't you know," text in the video asks. "When did they know?"
"When a government targets its citizens based on their personal beliefs, we deserve to get answers of exactly what happened and who knew," the video concludes.
"The Obama administration continues to dodge questions and point fingers, but Americans deserve answers to why their First Amendment rights were so egregiously violated," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said. "Turning a blind eye and claiming not to know, or remember, what actions were carried out is no excuse for targeting individuals based on their beliefs. These are simple questions, and if they can't answer it raises another: what are they hiding?"
The IRS admitted last month they were applying extra scrutiny to groups trying to become tax-exempt that had the words "tea party" and "patriot" in their names. Other screening factors included groups focused on the federal debt. IRS rules prevent groups engaging in political activity from becoming tax exempt.
Top White House officials say they knew nothing of the targeting when it occurred. General Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler learned of a pending inspector general's report on April 24, 2013, according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. She later informed other top Obama aides, including chief of staff Denis McDonough.
Carney insisted no one -- including Ruemmler and McDonough -- told Obama anything about the inspector general's pending report before media reports about it began appearing on May 10.
Speaking in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman said that he was aware of some aspects of his agency's targeting of conservative groups in the spring of 2012, and took what he called the correct action of ensuring the situation would be independently reviewed.