The Treasury inspector general (IG) whose report helped drive the IRS targeting controversy says it limited its examination to conservative groups because of a request from House Republicans.
A spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, said they were asked by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”The inspector general’s audit found that groups seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “patriots” in their name did receive extra attention from the IRS, with some facing years of delay and inappropriate questions from the agency.
But top congressional Democrats have wielded new information from the IRS this week that liberal groups were also flagged for extra attention on the sorts of “be on the lookout” lists (BOLOs) that also tripped up conservative groups.
The spokesman for the Treasury inspector general noted their audit acknowledged there were other watch lists. But the spokesman added: “We did not review the use, disposition, purpose or content of the other BOLOs. That was outside the scope of our audit.”
The admission from the inspector general comes as Democrats have sharpened their criticism of George, with Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) dubbing the audit fundamentally flawed on Monday.
Levin, the top Democrat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, stressed to The Hill on Tuesday that the inspector general did not say the audit was limited to Tea Party groups when it was released in mid-May.
The Michigan Democrat also maintained that the audit’s shortcoming had emboldened Republicans to try to link the targeting of Tea Party groups to the White House.
“You need to get at the facts. And those facts weren’t given to us, even when asked,” Levin said. “The Republicans used the failure of the IG to spell out what they knew as an opportunity to totally politicize this.”
No. You can’t be serious. Darrell Issa politicize something? Issa withhold material information so as to propagate a falsehood widely? Never in a million years.
You know, I’ve been saying that to the best of my knowledge, which I’ll admit isn’t comprehensive, what went on at the IRS went on because of the disproportionately larger number of GOP-leaning tax-exempt groups created since Citizens United. Other people insisted, however, that the disproportionate focus on Tea Party groups meant this wasn’t accidental, that it was part of a conspiracy. Well, they were right and I was wrong. But I’m pretty sure a conspiracy originating with Darrell Issa wasn’t what they meant.
Now why, you ask, would as high a ranking GOP member as Issa do such a thing? I’ll tell you why. The Tea Party is basically indistinguishable from the wingnut GOP base. And while the GOP leadership is perfectly happy to use those rank-and-file people during elections, the only agenda item they really care about is hoovering more money upward to the rich. That’s all. Nothing else. The Tea Party people have a somewhat more complicated agenda, and for them to gain too much power in the party would mean interference with, or at least distraction from, the top agenda item.
So, if you’re a Tea Party member, remember this: Barack Obama didn’t sic the IRS on you. Darrell Issa did. And he did it because he wants your money, end of story. You vote however you want, but you need to be sure to take that fact into the voting booth with you when you do.