Updated: May 15, 2013 3:24PM
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch is calling on the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service to step down in the wake of revelations that his agency targeted tea party groups.
The Republican senator said during a news conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that commissioner Steve Miller intentionally deceived him when he questioned him about why the IRS asked certain conservative groups for lists of donors and the political affiliation of officer, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“This was either one of the greatest cases of incompetence that I’ve ever seen, or it was the IRS willfully not telling Congress the truth,” Hatch said. “The American people deserve the truth. There is no single agency of the federal government that instills more fear than the IRS.”
Hatch joins Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and other GOP senators in calling for Miller to resign. The seven-term senator also signed a letter sent by all Republican senators demanding the Obama Administration fully comply with congressional investigation.
The Justice Department is investigating the IRS for targeting tea party groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax exempt status.
On Wednesday, Hatch sent out a statement reiterating his displeasure with what happened, and demanding “ironclad guarantees” that the IRS implement measures to prevent its officials from ever targeting groups based on their political views again.
“There can be no tolerance for the IRS being turned into a political weapon,” Hatch said in the statement. “It has a chilling and, frankly, Nixonian effect on those who wish to speak their mind.”
Utah’s other senator, Republican Sen. Mike Lee, said in a statement of his own that it would be a mistake for his party to view the IRS scandal as just a partisan squabble. The real lesson, he said, is that “our massive federal government bureaucracy is inherently dysfunctional, corrupt, and intolerant regardless of who is in charge.”