The apology issued to the Tea Party by the IRS is not sincere, Rep. Darrell Issa says.
Issa (R – Calif.) chairs the powerful House Oversight Committee, which is also investigating the Benghazi cover-up.
On Friday, an IRS official admitted that the agency singled out Tea Party and other similar groups for heavy scrutiny in their applications for tax-exempt status. IRS official Lois Lerner said that the practice of subjecting conservative groups to additional examination “was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That’s not how we go about selecting cases for further review. The IRS would like to apologize for that.” The IRS also issued a statement to the effect that “mistakes were made.”
No equivalent groups on the political left were put under the IRS microscope.
Lerner added that this unconstitutional practice practice was initiated by so-called low level IRS agents at the Cincinnati field office, but it turns out that IRS bosses apparently knew what was going on as early as 2011, according to a soon-to-be-released report from the Department of the Treasury’s Inspector General.
According to the latest information, the extra scrutiny of Tea Party and other right-of-center groups may have started as far back as March 2010.
Other keywords flagged by IRS agents in applications for tax-exempt status reportedly included “government debt” and “taxes.”
Rep. Issa was hardly impressed with IRS apology, particularly the timing of it: “They targeted conservatives for tax exempt status, but the bottom line is they used keywords to go after conservatives. This is something where you have to institute changes to make sure it doesn’t happen again. There has to be accountability for the people who did it. And quite frankly, up until a few days ago, there’s got to be accountability for people who were telling lies about it being done.
Added Issa on Meet the Press: “And lastly, to be honest, one of the most offensive parts is, my committee… instigated this investigation, got the [Inspector General] to do the investigation, before the IG’s report comes to the public or to Congress as required by law, it’s leaked by the IRS to try to spin the output. This mea culpa is not an honest one.”
In a press conference today, President Obama commented on this burgeoning scandal: “If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous and there’s no place for it… If you’ve got the IRS operating in anything less than a neutral and non-partisan way then that is outrageous… People have to be held accountable and it’s got to be fixed.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D – WVa.) has joined those on Capitol Hill calling for a full-blown investigation of the IRS misconduct in relation to the Tea Party: “The actions of the IRS are unacceptable and un-American. Government agencies using their bureaucratic muscle to target Americans for their political beliefs cannot be tolerated… While we await answers from the Inspector General, there must be a congressional investigation to determine how this happened and to prevent this from ever happening again.”
The IRS will also play a major role in the implementation of Obamacare.