Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," said the Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court released a torrent of corporate money into so-called citizens groups that popped up and sought tax-exempt status as 501(c)(4) organizations, allowed to carry out only minimal political activities.
"The law we wrote as Congress said that they had to exclusively be engaged in social welfare and not politics and campaigning," Durbin said. "And so, here is the IRS trying to decide whether or not these organizations really comply with the law."
Durbin contended some such groups, in particular the Crossroads GPS organization founded by Republican political strategist Karl Rove, publicly boasted about their ample treasuries at the same time they considered themselves to be non-profit public-welfare organizations.
"There is no basis for targeting within the IRS, what we basically need to say that all groups need to have the law applied to them equally," he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called for appointment of a special counsel to look into IRS scrutiny of Tea Party and other conservative 501(c)(4) applicants.
"There's clearly an organized effort within the IRS to target political opponents of the president," Graham said.