IRS: Hey, Conservatives, We're Sorry About Targeting You During the 2012 Election Year (Updated)

Heads should be rolling.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Internal Revenue Service is apologizing for inappropriately flagging conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.

Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS unit that oversees tax-exempt groups, said organizations that included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status were singled out for additional reviews.

Lerner said the practice, initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati, was wrong and she apologized while speaking at a conference in Washington.

I'm calling shenanigans on Lerner's clain that the practice was "initiated by low-level workers" anywhere.

Update: This may be the most disappointing headline I've ever read: "Mitch McConnell Demands White House Investigate IRS for Targeting Conservative Groups."

There should be an investigation. The White House should under no circumstances conduct that investigation.

Update: The Washington Post's Aaron Blake, on what the IRS' admission means. Shorter Blake: It's good for the Tea Party and Republicans, therefore bad for all noble patriots.

Get this:

[I]t seems this will undercut whatever success the IRS might have had in cracking down on politically oriented non-profits. And that’s good news for the GOP, which has been much quicker to embrace the use of these groups.

Good-government groups (and the White House, for that matter) have long alleged that many of these organizations are thinly veiled super PACs that allow the groups to hide their donors. The groups are not supposed to be directly involved in political campaigns, though their efforts are often clearly geared toward that end.

“Now what’s going to happen is, I expect you’ll have (House oversight committee chairman) Darrell Issa or other Republicans holding hearings in the House to make a legitimate point about political targeting – one that has the potential to overshadow and short-circuit that effort,” said Rick Hasen, a political law expert at the University of California-Irvine.

Of course, if that effort is thwarted, it’s all to the benefit of Republicans.