Rep. John Mica tells Newsmax that an IRS official from Cincinnati who testified on Thursday about the targeting of conservative groups "very clearly" indicated that instructions came from Washington.
The Florida Republican also states that Obamacare is "spinning out of control" and should be replaced, and asserts that the Department of Homeland Security is a "monstrosity" that needs dramatic reform.
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Mica was first elected in 1992. He is chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations in the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a senior member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which he chaired until last December.
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on Thursday where two key IRS officials testified for the first time about IRS targeting — agency lawyer Carter Hull and Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Thursday, Rep. Mica discloses what the committee learned.
"In today's testimony Ms. Hofacre testified very clearly that she sought guidance from above and direction. Mr. Hull, who was in Washington, sought guidance from further up the chain from [exempt organization office chief] Lois Lerner's office, and he also indicated that the questions went beyond even that office to two political appointees. One of them is of course the commissioner and the legal counsel office was also involved, so that I guess is William Wilkins.
"What we're trying to do is take this methodically. We're talking to the people in Cincinnati. We haven't talked to all of these individuals at the Washington level. We wanted to do a thorough job on what took place in Cincinnati. Clearly they have pointed the finger consistently at Washington, so now we take it to that level."
Lois Lerner has so far refused to testify, having invoked her Fifth Amendment rights at one hearing. But because she delivered a statement, she might have in fact waived those rights and "she may very well be called back" to testify, Mica says. "That's a decision of the chairman and the legal counsel."
As to whether the IRS has since corrected the problem and ended its targeting of conservative groups, Mica observes: "There's been enough attention so what was taking place for a period of time has probably concluded.
"We'll know better as we continue this but you have to be thorough. The other side first tried to close down the investigation, then they tried to take selective parts out of testimony we were getting because when they sit in on these depositions from folks, they take selective parts and then use that to again try to close down the investigation, not telling the whole truth.
"They tried to discredit the chairman and today [they attempted] to discredit the inspector general who conducted the audit. So it's a little bit of a cat and mouse game they're playing."
President Obama has said he didn't know anything about the IRS targeting. Mica says he would "tend to" believe him.
"I don't think anyone's made an accusation that the president was involved. What we try to do is find out who was involved. It wasn't just a group of IRS rogues, as they said, the employees who gathered around a water cooler in the office in Cincinnati where some of these applications were processed. And again the witness we had today from that office clearly stated that she ought direction from Washington.
"Ms. Hofacre said today she did not have any progressive groups she was targeting. I guess they had to have 'tea party' or 'patriot' in their title."
Mica adds that "there's always the possibility" that criminal charges may be filed against the individuals behind the targeting.
"The inspector general had said that he might have referrals. The committee can do referrals and we found today that the Department of Justice and FBI are doing some investigating. Both of the witnesses that we had, the Cincinnati witness and Washington, had been contacted by either the FBI and/or the Department of Justice."
Turning to immigration, Mica says the House should not take up the bipartisan reform legislation passed in the Senate.
"We have our procedures. We have at least four bills. Three of them I'm inclined to support. But I've not seen the final on each of them.
"I personally do not support the pathway to citizenship and have a very strong personal and philosophical reason not to support that. All of my grandparents were legal immigrants who worked very hard, who struggled, and who went through a process that took some years to gain their citizenship, and I don’t want that sacrifice and process that they went through set aside."
The House on Wednesday voted to delay implementation of Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.
Mica comments: "Supporting the president's desire to put off the employer mandate was one of the votes and I supported that. But if we're going to allow a delay for employers, then we [should allow a delay for] individuals too.
"Right now, Obamacare is spinning out of control. They've devised a very bureaucratic system and they don’t have the mechanisms in place even if they wanted to go forward — not to mention is it appropriate and helpful as a package for the American people to have that particular law in place? I'm for replacing it."
As chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last term, Mica was very critical of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s invasive body scanners at our nation’s airport. Now she’s stepping down.
"Napolitano did not have the management skills," Mica tells Newsmax.
"That's a very difficult agency. We combine 22 activities of government and agencies with 200,000 people so it's a tough one. She was out of her league.
"We created that in haste. We need to look at dismantling the Department of Homeland Security and having, actually, a homeland security agency that deals with connecting the dots and information that allows us to go after terrorist organizations that pose a risk. Agencies would work much better independently. We need dramatic reform of a huge monstrosity we created.
"It's an agency gone wild."
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