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House panel says former IRS official may have committed crimes in tea party targeting

WASHINGTON - The House Ways and Means Committee has voted to refer a former Internal Revenue Service official to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution in the agency's tea party controversy.

Committee investigators say they have uncovered evidence that Lois Lerner may have violated the constitutional rights of conservative groups, misled investigators and was reckless with confidential taxpayer information.

Lerner, who retired last year, headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. The agency has acknowledged that agents improperly singled out tea party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status from 2010 to 2012.

The Justice Department is already investigating whether any crimes have been committed. Lerner's lawyer, who says she has committed no crimes, called the committee's action "ridiculous."

The Canadian Press

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