Investigator says he told top Treasury officials of IRS probe in June of campaign year 2012

Saturday - 5/18/2013, 12:50am EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican lawmakers are saying they now have more questions after hearing testimony from the ousted chief of the IRS and a government watchdog Friday about the IRS targeting of tea party groups.

The Treasury inspector general for tax administration told a House hearing that senior Treasury officials were made aware in June last year, during the heat of the presidential campaign, that investigators were looking into complaints from tea party groups that they were being harassed by the agency. But J. Russell George says the audit had not produced results at that point.

Meanwhile, Steven Miller, who was forced to resign his post as acting director this week, apologized but insisted the targeting was not politically motivated. He says it was a misguided effort to deal with a flood of applications for tax exempt status. Miller says agents broke no laws and there was no effort to cover up their actions.

Miller's comments only stoked the criticism of many Republicans. House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp said the revelations show the IRS has grown too large and too intrusive. He promises the investigation "has just begun."

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195-w-36-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent, with Steven miller, former acting IRS commissioner and Congressman Mike Kelly, R-Pa.)--The outgoing head of the IRS says politics didn't play a role in the targeting of conservative organizations. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. (17 May 2013)

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196-a-03-(Congressman Mike Kelly, D-Pa., during House Ways and Means Committee hearing)-"for all America"-Congressman Mike Kelly says the IRS handling of conservative groups was abhorrent. ((cut used in wrap; note length)) (17 May 2013)

<> 00:03 "for all America"

197-a-15-(Congressman James McDermott, D-Wash. and J. Russell George, Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration, during House Ways and Means Committee hearing)-"that assertion, Sir"-The treasury department's inspector general tells Congressman James McDermott there was no ulterior motive for what happened. (17 May 2013)

<> 00:15 "that assertion, Sir"

198-a-11-(Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., at House Ways and Means Committee hearing)-"to American citizens"-Congressman Charles Rangel says everybody should be angry over what happened. (17 May 2013)

<> 00:11 "to American citizens"

APPHOTO DCSA108: Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller, right, accompanied by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, May 17, 2013, before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the extra scrutiny the IRS gave Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (17 May 2013)

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APPHOTO DCCD115: Ousted IRS Chief Steve Miller takes his seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, May 17, 2013, after a break as he testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) practice of targeting applicants for tax-exempt status based on political leanings. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak) (17 May 2013)

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APPHOTO DCSA112: House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, left, waves a constituent's application to the IRS that was delayed, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, May 17, 2013, during the committee's hearing on the extra scrutiny the Internal Revenue Service gave Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. From left are, Tiberi, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (17 May 2013)

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APPHOTO DCSA134: House Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., center, questions the ousted head of the Internal Revenue Service Steven Miller, lower right, as the Republican-run committee held a hearing on the extra scrutiny the Internal Revenue Service gave Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, Friday, May 17, 2013, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Top row, from left are, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp , R-Mich., and the committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Sander Levin, D-Michigan, D-Mich. Front row, from left are, Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind., Kelly, and Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) (17 May 2013)

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