WASHINGTON — After a week of fighting with other Republicans, Texas Senator Ted Cruz on Wednesday took on a more traditional GOP target: the Internal Revenue Service.
At a Senate hearing, the Republican presidential candidate told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen that his agency has become ‘‘the embodiment of what’s wrong with government and what’s wrong with Washington.’’
‘‘We should not have a federal government agency that becomes an intimidator, going after citizens, going after citizen groups, violating their First Amendment rights,’’ said Cruz, who has called for the abolition of the IRS.
Cruz was referring to a scandal that erupted in 2013 in which the IRS acknowledged that agents had improperly singled out Tea Party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The mistreatment of conservative groups was detailed in a 2013 report by the agency’s inspector general.
Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, said Cruz’s accusations don’t exactly match the evidence.
‘‘Many of the allegations just made at the opening of this hearing strike me as a rehashing of complex conspiracy theories already thoroughly investigated and dismissed by the inspector general himself,’’ Coons said.
Last week, Cruz raised the ire of fellow Republicans when he took to the Senate floor and accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of lying. Cruz said McConnell misled fellow senators when he said there was no deal to allow for a vote on extending the US Export-Import Bank, which helps American companies sell their products overseas.