HOWLEY: Ten IRS Scandal Excuses That Are Now Completely Discredited
With Lois Lerner facing a contempt of Congress vote Wednesday, and coming up on the one-year anniversary of the IRS conservative-targeting scandal (this Saturday all cocktails consumed in America will be a tax write-off, The Daily Caller has decided), it’s time to take a look at the pro-IRS case. What have we found? There isn’t one. Every defense put forth by the Obama administration and its allies in the Democratic Party and the media has now been disproved and discredited.
No, we’re not talking about Jay Carney’s “phony scandal” line or Obama’s “not even a smidgen of corruption” talking points. Those are just sound bytes. We’re talking about the actual ways the IRS and its friends tried to stop, stifle, or confuse investigations into the scandal.
So with Lerner expected to be held in contempt and GOP leaders calling for a special counsel, here are the 10 major defenses put forth by IRS defenders, and 10 reasons why the administration has literally nothing left to throw at the wall:
1. Progressives were targeted, too
For months, Democrats and the media relied on the talking point that progressive groups also ended up on an IRS “Be on the Lookout” list while the agency was auditing and seizing information from conservative groups. But as TheDC reported, IRS agents testified before the House oversight committee that the IRS scrutinized ACORN groups because it thought they were old groups applying as new ones; the group Emerge America was scrutinized for potential “improper private benefit;” and no evidence exists to prove that the IRS targeted any Occupy Wall Street group.
“Only seven applications in the IRS backlog contained the word ‘progressive,’ all of which were then approved by the IRS… [T]here is simply no evidence that any liberal or progressive group received enhanced scrutiny because its application reflected the organization’s political views,” according to an oversight committee staff report.
2. Everything Elijah Cummings said
Democratic oversight committee Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings served as his party’s point man on the IRS case, trying to block or discredit Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa’s investigation at every turn. After Cummings threw a fit — accusing Issa of being “un-American” at a March 5 hearing as Issa cut off his microphone — House Democrats took to the floor to stage their “Lift Your iPads” demonstration, playing back footage of Issa cutting Cummings’ microphone in order to shame the Republican chairman. But the triumph of the Democrats’ high-tech Apple commercial of a protest was short lived.
It turned out that in the fall of 2012, Cummings demanded information himself from the voter-ID group True the Vote, and emails showed that Lois Lerner fed True the Vote tax information to Cummings, who might now face an ethics probe.
3. No White House involvement
“Not necessarily the White House” was the phrase that some Democratic “strategist” used when attacking one of our Daily Caller stories on cable television last year. He meant that while the IRS may have been corrupt to its very Washington core, President Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett have not yet been photographed sifting through tea party applications at a desk in the Lincoln Bedroom.
But we do know, however, courtesy of The Daily Caller’s reporting, that Lerner exchanged confidential taxpayer information on conservative groups with White House officials including White House health-policy adviser Ellen Montz and Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy Jeanne Lambrew, who just happened to be the most powerful official on Obamacare implementation within the White House.
4. A couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati
Ah, yes. The “WKRP in Cincinnati” Theory of 2013. You know the episode where the wacky characters in the Cincinnati office make a little “whoops” and take it upon themselves to target conservatives nationwide? A team of reporters from The New York Times, including dreamboat Nicholas Confessore, even went to bat for the administration on this theory last year, publishing a disgraceful article about Ohio-based “confusion” and “staff troubles” among “Low-level employees in what many in the I.R.S. consider a backwater.”
But at least five different offices ranging from Chicago to Laguna Niguel, Calif. were engaging in this kind of “confusion,” and the whole excuse got torn down like Riverside Stadium. A Cincinatti-based IRS official said that Washington “was basically throwing us under the bus.” The bus to the world-renowned American Sign Museum.
5. Lerner can still cite the Fifth Amendment
That’s what her lawyer, Bill Taylor, wrote in a recent letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, calling a possible contempt vote “un-American.” But it’s just not true. Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment privilege when she made a statement attesting to her innocence at a May 2013 oversight hearing. The oversight committee and U.S. House counsel both determined as much. Next.
6. It could take years for the IRS to get all of Lerner’s emails
That’s what new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who has been threatened with contempt himself, told oversight investigators. But the independent group Judicial Watch managed to obtain emails showing Lerner coordinating with the Department of Justice to potentially prosecute conservative activists. It only took Judicial Watch one Freedom of Information Act request to get that stuff. “Now I see why the IRS is scared to give up the rest of Lois Lerner’s emails,” said oversight member Rep. Jim Jordan.
7. No IRS coordination with other Obama administration agencies
The Department of Justice. The Treasury Department. The Federal Election Commission. The White House.
8. Don’t worry, federal government investigators are on top of things
Eric Holder’s Department of Justice tapped an Obama political donor to head its investigation. FBI investigators went months without contacting the conservative groups that were victimized by the IRS targeting, and leaked to the press that no criminal charges would be filed in relation to the case before much of the relevant information we currently have even came out.
The Obama administration’s investigation of the scandal was such a joke that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte accused Obama and Holder of “undermining” investigators on multiple occasions, and joined with other House GOP leaders in calling for a special counsel to prosecute the case.
But if the investigation was a joke, here’s the punchline: The Justice Department has been the only investigative body to ask Lois Lerner any questions, at an off-the-record “Q+A” that was not under oath.
9. Only tea party groups were targeted
Good for the IRS for taking a firm stand against all those wacky tea party groups popping up out in Palookaville trying to exercise their little “First Amendment rights.” Bunch of Koch-funded rednecks.
But oh wait: The IRS also audited the Leadership Institute, founded by Morton C. Blackwell, which has been one of the Washington area’s foremost conservative activist training organizations since 1979, even demanding personal information about the institute’s college-aged interns. Oh yeah, and the IRS also told a pro-life group “you can’t force your religion” and tried to stop pro-life activists from picketing Planned Parenthood clinics.
10. The targeting is over now
Sure it is. Just ask Ron Paul and his group Campaign for Liberty’s donors about that.