WASHINGTON — Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., delivered a floor speech Tuesday strongly criticizing the Obama administration for two mounting controversies: the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups and the Department of Justice's gathering of journalists' phone records.
Fischer tied those to other Obama administration actions, including recess appointments, which she described as unconstitutional, the disclosure of cattlemen's private information to environmental groups, and the response to the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
“The American people deserve a government that jealously guards the liberties of its citizens, not a government that tramples on its basic constitutional rights,” Fischer said.
The White House has suggested it wants to see all the facts on the IRS situation, but Obama has said it would be “outrageous” if the agency really was giving extra scrutiny to right-leaning groups that were seeking tax-exempt status.
Fischer said the reports are alarming.
“As citizens we have the absolute right to expect the IRS to be free from political influence, with taxpayers treated fairly and enforcement carried out in an unbiased manner,” she said. “Unfortunately, in recent days we have learned that our expectations are far adrift from reality.”
She also pointed to reports that top IRS officials became aware of the targeting as far back as 2011.
The American people must know that it will never happen again, she said, which means those responsible need to be fired and policies changed.
Fischer also said the administration must soon provide the public with answers about the Justice Department obtaining extensive telephone records from Associated Press reporters and editors.
“While it is unclear at this point how many reporters were targeted and why, the effect of this data gathering is clear: intimidation of the press and suppression of free speech,” Fischer said. “This is unacceptable.”
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