Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Not a smidgen, but a crap ton!

So the whole IRS kerfuffle that, in the mind of President Barack Obama, was a "phony scandal" containing not even "a smidgen of corruption?" You recall the allegations, right? The IRS denied/delayed tax exempt status to groups sympathetic to right-of-center politicos? "Nothing to see here," we were told. Just another tale ginned up by Fox News, Darrell Issa, et al.

Yeah, about that.

New IRS emails released by the House Oversight Committee show staff working for Democratic Ranking Member Elijah Cummings communicated with the IRS multiple times between 2012 and 2013 about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote. True the Vote was targeted by the IRS after applying for tax exempt status more than two years ago. Further, information shows the IRS and Cummings' staff asked for nearly identical information from True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht about her organization, indicating coordination and improper sharing of confidential taxpayer information.

Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, along with five Subcommittee Chairmen are demanding Cummings provide an explanation for the staff inquiries to the IRS about True the Vote and for his denial that his staff ever contacted the IRS about the group.

“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff – indicates otherwise,” the letter to Cummings states. “As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.”

The first contact between the IRS and Cummings' staffers about True the Vote happened in August 2012. In January 2013, staff asked for more information from the IRS about the group. Former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner went out of her way to try and get information to Cummings' office.The information Cummings received was not shared with Majority Members on the Committee.

An excerpt from the committee's findings:

On Thursday, the House Oversight Committee will take a vote to cite Lerner for contempt of Congress for her refusal to testify. But....

Democrats say Thursday’s contempt vote is unlikely to produce a successful prosecution, even if the House oversight committee passes the resolution.

They point to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service that shows federal courts have rarely upheld contempt convictions against individuals who refuse to testify before Congress.

According to the CRS analysis, the courts have overturned every contempt conviction against individuals who refused to testify before Congress dating back to at least 1951. The agency acknowledged that its research was not necessarily exhaustive and that “it is possible that some relevant cases were missed.”

Democrats on the oversight panel plan to release a report on Wednesday arguing that the Republican contempt effort lacks “historical precedent” and that the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), has not taken the steps legally required for pursuing charges against Lerner.

“We oppose Chairman Issa’s efforts to re-create the oversight committee in Joe McCarthy’s image, and we reject his attempts to drag us back to that shameful era in which Congress tried to strip away the Constitutional rights of American citizens,” the Democratic report says.

Republicans on the oversight committee contend that Lerner’s testimony is critical to their investigation of the IRS’s controversial actions. “Without her testimony, the full extent of the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party applications cannot be known, and the committee will be unable to fully complete its work,” the group said in a report released Tuesday.
Anyone got any popcorn?


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