Darrell Issa’s 5 Biggest Lies About The IRS ‘Scandal’
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced even before he became chairman of the House Oversight Committee that the Obama administration was the “most corrupt administration in history.” He has since spent two years trying to connect the White House to all manner of wrongdoing, and has failed miserably.
He thought he had his big chance in April when the IRS’ Inspector General released a report about the “targeting” of right-wing groups applying for 501(c)4 status. To Issa, the scandal wasn’t that these blatantly political groups were applying for non-political “social welfare” status, but that they’d been given extra scrutiny because they opposed President Obama.
But the biggest lie about the scandal was there for anyone paying attention to see: 300 groups were targeted and about 100 of them were “Tea Party,” “Patriot” or “9/12” groups. Hmm, we all should have said. What about the other 200?
Here are Darrell Issa’s 5 biggest lies about the manufactured IRS “scandal.”
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Only Tea Party And Right-Wing Groups Were Targeted
Given his spotty oversight and arrest record, the media should have been much more suspect of Darrell Issa’s claims about the IRS.
But instead the media allowed themselves to be led exactly where Issa wanted the “scandal” to go. House Republicans told the Inspector General “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.” As a result, the story was all about the targeting of these organizations.
In reality, twice as many groups were subjected to some degree of scrutiny because they had words like “progressive,” “blue,” “marijuana,” “Occupy,” or “Israel” in them.
And the only organization actually denied tax-exempt status was a progressive group.
In May, Issa stated that groups allied with the president hadn’t been targeted and used that to suggest the White House was involved. “But certainly people knew it was happening that could have done something and would have done something, I’m sure, if these had been progressive groups or groups that supported the president,” he said.
Well, they were.
The identities of those 200 or so groups should have been the focus of the story from the beginning. The scandal was that groups on the left and right were “targeted” due to their political identification. That’s it.
Columbia Journalism Review’s Ryan Chittum explains:
Rather than the Nixonian conspiracy… you have a routine bureaucratic procedure meant to bundle potentially problematic applicants together for further review. The “abuses” the right has screamed about are the same ones that nonprofit journalism applicants like SF Public Press, The Lens, and many others faced, especially long delays and invasive questioning (and, ultimately, approval—no Tea Party group’s application ultimately was denied).
Photo credit: Dwight Burdette via Flickr.com
The President Was Involved
In May, Issa said, “This was a targeting of the president’s political enemies, effectively, and lies [sic] about it during the election year so that it wasn’t discovered until afterwards.”
Wednesday morning — even after news broke that the targeting was bipartisan — Issa made a similar argument. “Of course, the enemies list out of the White House that the IRS was engaged in shutting down or trying to shut down the conservative political viewpoint across the country — an enemies list that rivals that of another president some time ago.”
Issa knew these claims were completely irresponsible and outlandish. How do we know he knew this? Keep reading.
Releasing All The Transcripts Cannot Be Done
Issa interviewed a Republican IRS agent who said the inquiries into political groups all began at the IRS facility in Cincinnati. But Issa, who selectively released transcripts that made the White House look bad, refused to release this transcript.
The ranking minority member of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), announced that he considered the case “solved” based on this interview. Issa responded with a public letter to his colleague:
Your decision to make that declaration in a very public way was irresponsible and emblematic of your general aversion to conducting meaningful oversight of the Administration. In fact, any time the Committee endeavors to engage in such an effort, your participation is generally limited to obstructing or criticizing the process, if you decide to participate at all. I urge you to adopt a more responsible approach.
“Chairman Issa changes his mind so fast that even when I agree him, we’re not on the same page,” he said. “I fully support responsible oversight, but cherry picking transcript excerpts to fuel partisan and unsubstantiated claims is not a credible or effective way to investigate.”
When Issa continued to release partial transcripts, Cummings released all of the transcripts himself.
Photo: ElijahECummings via Flickr.com
White House Spokesman Jay Carney Is A ‘Paid Liar’
This is when Issa even began to lose Republicans.
In early June, CNN’s Candy Crowley called Issa out for “cherry picking information” that made the White House look guilty.
Issa told Crowley, “The administration is still, their paid liar, their spokesperson, picture behind, he’s still making up things about what happened and calling this local rogue,” as he pointed out a picture of Carney.
Carney never used the words “local rogue.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) immediately chastised Issa for this slur.
“But you know — Jay Carney, calling the president’s press secretary a ‘paid liar’ doesn’t help get to the truth,” Graham said. “It’s a distraction. It’s inappropriate. And if somebody called Darrell a liar, I’d be defending him. And Darrell, well you’ve done a good job. But you shouldn’t have done that. No, you shouldn’t have done that.”
‘I’ve Never Said It Came Out Of The Office Of The President Or His Campaign’
Issa said these exact words Wednesday morning.
Actually, he said and hinted at this all along. But now that the story has fallen apart, he says that he meant “Washington” as in the IRS office in Washington, or something. But who cares? It’s time to go back to #Benghazi!
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite