Members of Minnesota's U.S. House delegation are preparing for a long, hot summer of investigating the Internal Revenue Service over its scrutiny of conservative groups.
The scandal has already cost IRS acting commissioner Steven T. Miller his job. Miller resigned on Wednesday. And the U.S. House later Friday morning will hold its first hearings on the matter.
There's a familiar script for scandal in Washington that lawmakers have been using since Watergate. On Thursday, it was Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann's turn.
"We need to know what the White House knew and when they knew it," Bachmann said, surrounded by dozens of lawmakers, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, and tea party leaders.
Bachmann heads the House Tea Party Caucus, but does not sit on any of the committees that will look into this affair. Still, she insisted Republicans were not simply out to get the Obama administration.
"We also don't want to jump to conclusions, we want to go where the facts lead us," she said.
But Bachmann had trouble sticking to that pledge during the press conference. She made a leap of logic, attempting to link the IRS scandal to her biggest boogeyman, the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare."
“We need to know what the White House knew and when they knew it.”Rep. Michele Bachmann
Bachmann argued that because the IRS would implement portions of the law, the agency could have access to medical records and apply political tests to determine who should be eligible for health care.
"Will our most personal, sensitive information be used to deny healthcare?" Bachmann asked, although she admitted that is a hypothetical scenario, for now.
"This question would have been considered unreasonable and out of bounds a week ago," Bachmann said. "Today this question is highly relevant."
The Affordable Care Act does nothing to nationalize or centralize medical records, nor turn them over to the IRS.
Carleton College political scientist Steven Schier said that if that sort of talk gets greater attention, it could undermine the public's support for an investigation into the agency.
"If we're into 'tin foil hat' territory, it's not helpful to Bachmann," Schier said.
But he added said she may have a good reason to be one of the loudest GOP voices on the IRS scandal.
Currently there are multiple investigations into her unsuccessful presidential campaign on allegations including campaign finance law violations, improper payments to an Iowa state senator.
"What Michele Bachmann needs is a change of the subject," Schier said.
So far, it appears that two Minnesota conservative groups -- Minnesota Majority and the Rochester Tea Party Patriots -- may have received extra scrutiny from the IRS.
Dan McGrath, the president of Minnesota Majority, said his group recently received letters from the IRS asking for additional information about its activities.
"It's been a great expense and it's taken a toll on our ability to operate because we've had to divert resources away from our normal work," McGrath said.
Cindy Maves of the Rochester Tea Party Patriots said the group's application for nonprofit status simply stalled, like those of many other tea party groups.
"We weren't being accepted. We weren't being declined. We were just being on hold," Maves said.
Friday's hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee is likely to be the first in a long series, said 3rd District Republican Erik Paulsen, who is a member of the committee.
"We need to let the committee oversight process work its course, we shouldn't jump to any conclusions," Paulsen said.
This has become a rare issue in this divided Congress where there is clear bipartisan support for a probe.
First District DFL Rep. Tim Walz said he was outraged to learn about the IRS' activities and believes the agency needs to be investigated. But he said many Republican-driven investigations, such as the hearings into the Benghazi, Libya embassy terror attacks that have focused on the White House's talking points about the attacks, have given congressional oversight a bad name.
"When Congress now has to exert its oversight authority, it's been so politicized and downsized everybody sees it as, 'Oh, it's another witch hunt or whatever.' Well sometimes there's witches," Walz said.
Despite Walz's wishes, this investigation isn't likely to stay bipartisan for long. The Republican House and Senate campaign committees sent out press releases this week implicating Walz and Democratic Sen. Al Franken in the IRS scandal, saying the Democrats pushed the IRS to scrutinize conservative groups.
Franken's staff disputed the charge, noting that Franken raised concerns with the IRS about seemingly-political associations getting nonprofit status in 2012, two years after the agency began scrutinizing conservative groups.
"The letter did not single out any group or political persuasion because Sen. Franken believes strongly that the law needs to be enforced even-handedly; he wants this abuse to stop by groups of every political persuasion," said Franken spokeswoman Alexandra Fetisoff.