Republican IRS Official Helped Start ‘Tea Party’ Inquiries

A Republican IRS official admitted to congressional investigators that he and a colleague decided to give conservative groups extra scrutiny for tax-exempt applications.

The news comes after the scandal broke that the government organization was unfairly targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status.

An official transcript of the interview was released on Sunday by Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings. In it, the manager tells the investigators that the pair decided to give the groups extra scrutiny, because they appeared to pose a new precedent that could change future IRS filings.

Cummings is the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is conducting the probe into the apparent targeting. Cummings also told CNN’s State of the Union program on Sunday:

“He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way toward showing that the White House was not involved in this.

The lawmaker added, “Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on.” But that is not likely to happen, even when the Maryland Democrat releases the full transcript of the committee’s interviews with IRS officials later this week.

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) has released his own excerpts of interviews with IRS employees related to the scandal, which has had some conservatives pushing for President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to resign. In a statement released by his office, Issa said:

“I strongly disagree with… Cummings’ assertion that we know everything we need to know about inappropriate targeting of Tear Party groups by the IRS.”

While President Obama’s job is likely still safe, despite the scandal, the president has fired the IRS commissioner. The House oversight panel, several other congressional committees, and the FBI have all launched investigations into the targeting.

And while the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report showing the IRS was the only department involved in the Tea Party-targeting, Republicans have raised questions about whether the scrutiny was politically motivated. They have also sought evidence that the White House could have been involved.

Do you think the Republican IRS official’s admission to starting the Tea Party-targeting means that the White House was not involved?