The Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee's decision to ask Attorney General Eric Holder to consider criminal prosecution of former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner was a mistake, says Republican strategist Ford O'Connell.
"I want to know what you're going to get out of this, you're going to get nothing," O'Connell told "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV.
"You're talking about asking the attorney general you've held in contempt to throw you a bone and refer criminal charges against Lois Lerner, this is a mistake," he said Wednesday.
The committee's vote to pursue charges against Lerner for her involvement in alleged targeted IRS inquiries against nonprofit groups affiliated with the tea party was made along party lines
, and one Democrat dismissed it as "political theater."
O'Connell said that while the Republican base cares deeply about this issue, the general public doesn't. If Republicans want to change that, they should grant Lerner immunity and have her testify to produce smoking-gun evidence that could be framed not as a partisan issue but as one of unaccountability.
"The problem here is that this is a GOP base issue, and what the Republican Party needs to do is move it to a transparency and how government institutions are used to punish public adversaries. Make this about the government," O'Connell said.
Without Republicans' doing that, O'Connell said, Democrats will be able to frame this issue as a partisan witch hunt led by Republicans during midterm campaigns.
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As the midterms near and attention starts to shift to the 2016 presidential elections, O'Connell said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made a tactical mistake by saying in an interview last weekend that illegal immigration was "an act of love."
That may have played well with liberal and centrist voters, but it disappointed the people Bush must first win over if he hopes to win the Republican nomination, O'Connell said.
"I think Jeb Bush led with his chin and this is going to come back and really haunt him, should he run, and right now I think he's going to run," O'Connell said.
"I get what he was trying to do, he was trying to have a discussion on immigration, and unfortunately he has to understand that there are two sides of this issue, and that is rule of law and sovereignty and the fact we're dealing with people. If you want to be president of the United States, you do have to win Republican primary."
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