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Minnesota delegation begins weighing in on IRS scandal

WASHINGTON — The IRS scandal has drawn complaints from Republicans, but Democrats are weighing in too.

WASHINGTON — There is a good amount of outrage in Washington this week over the Internal Revenue Service’s admission that it had targeted conservative political groups ahead of the 2012 election.

Conservatives are, justifiably, the most vocally upset about this, but it’s not just Republicans who are concerned. President Obama on Monday called it “outrageous,” and a string of congressional Democrats have slammed the IRS as well.

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The Minnesota congressional delegation as a whole hasn’t said too much on the matter yet, but there seems to be some agreement from those who have: The IRS was wrong and Congress should investigate.

Here’s a quick recap of who’s said what:

Sen. Al Franken told CNN on Monday night that the IRS has as a completely “legitimate” reason to investigate non-profit groups if it believes they’re misusing funds (in order to keep tax-exempt status, more than half of the expenditures for these organizations needs to go toward social welfare issues, not political activity). But “it just should be done in a completely non-partisan way,” Franken said.

“It’s a legitimate inquiry by the IRS, what is no way legitimate is that this be biased in any way, and the people responsible for this should be held accountable,” he said.

Rep. Erik Paulsen will participate in a House Ways and Means hearing on the matter this Friday. In a statement, he said: “It is unconscionable that the IRS deliberately targeted individuals based on their political beliefs. Absolutely no one should come under extra scrutiny from the IRS because of their political affiliation. It’s simply un-American.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann called the targeting “outrageous,” and a “stunning abuse of power,” and said, “the American people deserve answers as to who authorized it—it is hard to believe this was a ‘low-level’ decision.” She’ll hold a press conference with Tea Party groups on Thursday.

Finally, Rep. Keith Ellison went on MSNBC twice Monday and Tuesday to say that the scandal means Congress should move quickly to enact new campaign finance laws.

“I think the thing to do is to take the right lesson, which is, we need Congress to act to say that we’re going to scrutinize all groups that are electioneering when they really should be doing social welfare, he said. “I think the IRS should get more engaged, not less. … I think we need to redouble our efforts to bring real campaign finance reform forward.”

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.