US House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he wants someone to go to jail over the IRS's targeting of political groups, as his Republicans blasted the Obama administration's "culture of rot and abuse."
The Internal Revenue Service acknowledged in an inspector general's report that its agents used "inappropriate" political criteria when probing conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, and that lax management allowed the abuse to continue for 18 months.
President Barack Obama, under assault by critics amid a series of scandals gripping Washington, immediately pledged to hold tax agency staff accountable for the "intolerable and inexcusable" behavior, but Boehner appeared unmoved.
"My question isn't about who is going to resign. My question is, who's going to jail over this scandal?" he told reporters.
"Clearly someone violated the law."
Boehner stopped short of identifying who he thought might be guilty of any legal offenses, but he stressed that "someone made a conscious decision to harass and hold up these requests for tax-exempt status."
"I think we need to know who they are."
Several House committees have announced plans to hold hearings on the abuse, in which agents searched for applications with 'Tea Party,' 'Patriots,' or '9/12' in the organization's names, which in some cases delayed the processing of applications.
Congressman Charles Boustany, who has looked into allegations of IRS abuse for two years, said that "after months of misleading testimony and evasive answers... they've now been caught red-handed."
"I can tell you right now this culture of rot and abuse at the IRS is going to be rooted out," he added.
Republican congresswoman Lynn Jenkins piled on, describing a "Washington gone wild."
The White House is reeling from a series of political crises that includes its handling of last year's deadly attack on the US mission in Libya, and revelations this week that the Justice Department secretly obtained journalists' phone records amid a leak probe.
Obama's administration has denied playing any role in choosing IRS audit targets, and the Justice Department has launched a separate criminal investigation of the IRS actions.