A senior official at the Internal Revenue Service has told congressional investigators that two IRS employees have been disciplined in relation to the special scrutiny applied to conservative groups, sources told NBC News on Wednesday.
The disciplined employees are from the IRS’s Cincinnati office, which was responsible at the time for reviewing the applications of groups that wanted tax exemption, the sources said.
An internal report faulted the IRS for using “inappropriate criteria” in the screening and for bad management. The disclosure has angered members of both parties in Congress, and President Barack Obama has said it was inexcusable. The Justice Department has opened an investigation.
In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that prosecutors are looking at several different criminal statutes, including one that requires IRS employees to do their jobs without favoritism.
“The facts will take us wherever they take us,” Holder said.
He said that the investigation, while based in Washington, will be nationwide in scope and not limited to the offices that have been the subject of complaints so far.
IRS employees used to terms search as “Tea Party” and “Patriots” to determine which organizations would be allowed tax exemption under federal law. An IRS official has apologized, but lawmakers want to know who within the organization, and perhaps elsewhere in government, was aware of the screening.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, demanded earlier Wednesday: “My question isn’t who is going to resign. My question is who is going to jail over this scandal?”