Issa: IRS Probe Will Continue Despite White House Roadblocks

Image: Issa: IRS Probe Will Continue Despite White House Roadblocks

Thursday, 17 Apr 2014 08:41 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Rep. Darrell Issa said on Thursday that the congressional investigation into the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS will proceed despite any obstacles from embattled former supervisor Lois Lerner or the Obama administration.

"Whether Lois Lerner breaks her silence and testifies or is simply held to account when the full House of Representatives votes her in contempt, this president has been put on notice that the targeting investigation will move forward," Issa said in an op-ed piece in the Orange County Register. "Try as this administration might, this investigation will not go away until we get the full truth."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

Issa, the two-term California Republican, is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The panel has been investigating the targeting scandal of tea party, conservative, and religious groups starting in 2010 through the 2012 presidential election.

The scandal led to Lerner's suspension and retirement last year — and several other Internal Revenue Service employees have been fired or put on administrative leave. Others face congressional investigation.

Lerner was also held in contempt by Issa's committee after twice invoking the Fifth Amendment in questioning on the scandal.

In addition, the Oversight Committee has been battling the White House to obtain documents it has subpoenaed about the special screening the conservative groups faced in their applications for tax-exempt status.

The administration still has not provided substantive information to the panel, Issa has charged.

Emails released this week by Judicial Watch, however, showed that Lerner discussed working with the Justice Department last year to prosecute nonprofits she felt had "lied" about their political activities.

The documents, which the watchdog organization obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit it filed last October against the IRS, suggest that the targeting may have reached further into the White House than Lerner had originally suggested.

She had said early on that that the targeting was based solely out of the IRS' Cincinnati field office.

In addition, emails released last week by the House Ways and Means Committee showed that the IRS targeted Crossroads GPS, the group co-founded by Republican strategist Karl Rove.

In his Register piece, Issa discussed three critical things Congress has learned about the scandal since his committee began investigating it last year: 
  • That IRS targeting of the tea party groups was political, in response to the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, which struck down certain bans on political spending as violations of the First Amendment.
Issa quoted a Duke University speech Lerner gave later that year. "Everyone is up in arms because they don’t like [the ruling]," she said, according to documents the congressman quoted, and they "want the IRS to fix the problem."
  • That tea party and conservative groups were solely targeted — contrary to assertions that liberal organizations were, too.
"That isn’t true, and the IRS enabled this false narrative by selectively releasing misleading materials before key IRS employees were made available for interviews" to oversight committee investigators, Issa said.
  • That President Obama’s pledge to cooperate never materialized.
"Almost a year into the investigation, the IRS has still not produced all subpoenaed documents — even some of the most basic documents," Issa said. "Instead, it has wasted taxpayer dollars playing games, delivering documents that are often meaningless or perpetuate misleading narratives."

The congressman also slammed new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for injecting "politics into the IRS by engaging in revisionist history" — "reinventing the scandal into a narrative of bureaucratic bumbling" and not calling it "targeting."

"Sailing into a headwind of partisan opposition and obstruction, getting this administration to turn over critical documents is never easy," Issa concluded, adding, "more work remains."

Urgent: Who Is Your Choice for the GOP's 2016 Nominee?

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