Darrell Issa’s Folly

English: , member of the United States House o...

English: , member of the United States House of Representatives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Congressman Darrell Issa’s folly is becoming clearer every day, especially related to the IRS investigation. It is ironic that someone with Issa’s questionable past, who is no stranger to scandal himself, is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee and spearheading this and other investigations. Mr. Issa’s rabid obsession of trying to tie the IRS ‘scandal’ to the Obama administration has spawned allegations of wrongdoing by the President without actual evidence to back them up. So how has Issa been dishonest you may ask?

Now that this is looking less like a scandal and more like IRS leadership incompetence, Senator Issa is being criticized for his handling of the investigation, so he is walking back his allegations that Obama is directly connected, saying he never said that about the President. He did. “Washington” equals “Obama” in Issaspeak. He and some of his fellow Republicans have been accusing the President of having an “enemies list” to target his political opponents via the IRS. These partisans feel that if they repeat this accusation enough times, even if they are proven wrong, the assertion will stick in people’s minds.

We have discovered that the Inspector General’s report only focused on Tea Party and conservative groups because that was what Issa asked them to focus on. Guess what? Progressive groups were on the BOLO (be-on-the-lookout) lists too. Granted there were far less of them, but then again most progressive groups aren’t belligerently anti-tax. It makes sense that conservative organizations might be scrutinized mroe closely. That being said, all new 501(c)(4)s applying for tax exemption should’ve been scrutinized, regardless of political affiliation.

Interestingly, these groups aren’t even required to have IRS approval to operate as tax-exempt entities, as are 501(c)(3) organizations. One can only assume these groups wanted to make their secretive donors feel more confident about their contributions by having the tax-exempt status set in writing. Furthermore, the only group denied tax-exempt status was a liberal group, Emerge America.

Congressman Issa has also been cherry-picking information from the IG report and leaking testimony with the media that supports his narrative implying White House malfeasance. Congressman Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the Committee, threatened to release all the transcripts because he believed that Issa was manipulating evidence. Mr. Issa refused, only releasing small portions of testimony at a time, and claimed that opening the transcripts to public scrutiny would allow others testifying to prepare their answers in advance and jeopardize the investigation. However, on June 18, Cummings succeeded in releasing the full transcript of the Cincinnati IRS manager’s testimony. 

Cummings

Cummings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The IRS investigation should continue because it remains unclear what really transpired, but the members of the House Oversight Comittee are so partisan that getting to the truth may be impossible. Christopher Bergin at Tax Analysts is correct that it needs to be an independent investigation:

“We need a deliberate, independent investigation of the IRS. Last I checked conclusion-jumping is still not an Olympic sport, and it’s not an investigation either. American taxpayers need to know they can trust the IRS, and they are owed an explanation of what is going on—what is really going on.”

The truth will continue to elude Americans as long as partisans from both sides are involved in shaping the conclusion of the investigation to their liking. Darrell Issa has repeatedly tried to tie the Obama administration to one scandal after another—Fast & Furious, Solyndra, Benghazi, and now the IRS investigation, among others—and each time, there have been no nefarious connections found. Mr. Issa is doing himself no favors by continuing this folly. If he wants to uncover the truth and redeem his already tarnished reputation (at least in some circles), he should appoint an independent investigator.

Cross-Posted at The Feisty Liberal

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