President's aide insists he learned about affair from media
A TOP White House adviser has insisted that US President Barack Obama learned that the federal tax collection agency had targeted conservative groups only "when it came out in the news".
Senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer appeared on five Sunday news shows to insist that no senior officials were involved in the decision to give conservative tea party groups extra scrutiny.
Trying to move past a challenging week, Mr Pfeiffer's appearances were unlikely to calm Republican critics, who have seized on the revelations as proof that Mr Obama used the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to go after his political enemies.
Regardless of when the president first learned of the investigations, the longtime Obama confidante said the president wanted to ensure such activities were not repeated.
"The activity was outrageous and inexcusable, and it was stopped and it needs to be fixed to ensure it never happens again," Mr Pfeiffer said.
A Treasury Department inspector's report said that conservative and small-government tea party groups that were critical of Mr Obama received extra scrutiny. IRS agents did not flag similar progressive or liberal groups, according to the watchdog.
The report concluded that a regional IRS office in Ohio improperly singled out tea party and other conservative groups for more than 18 months and took no action on many of their applications for tax-exempt status for long periods of time – hindering their fundraising for the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The new acting IRS commissioner is in the midst of a 30-day review while Republicans continue to demand answers of Mr Obama.