Can the IRS salvage its reputation amid political targeting scandal?

A crisis communication professional offers the federal tax agency four dire steps to take if it holds any hope of mending its already tainted image.

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The IRS tried initially to get ahead of the news by saying only one office was targeting conservative groups, but that only made matters worse as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and various media outlets found that it was more widespread.

“I have ordered an investigation to be done,” Holder said Tuesday. “The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken in connection with those matters,” he added. “We are examining the facts to see if there were criminal violations.”

CNN is reporting that some IRS officials knew about the targeting as far back as March 2010.

President Obama has expressed outrage over the string of incidents, in which conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status under the 501(c)(4) code were targeted for extra scrutiny. He said the IRS staffers involved would be held accountable for any wrongdoing.

This is not your routine scandal that will pass in a week. Up next will be congressional hearings, resignations, and, probably, a shakeup in the IRS power structure.

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