Levin: Republican establishment bought into ‘kooky tea party slander’

Font Size:

Congressional Republicans were asleep during  the IRS audit scandal, and the Internal Revenue Service’s own inspector general did a  pretty good job, according to radio talk host Mark Levin.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Caller, Levin explained how his legal group, Landmark Legal Foundation, helped expose the ongoing IRS scandal by filing a complaint with Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George. Levin also encouraged Congress to “do its job and use its powers of investigation.”

“This [IRS scandal] was publicly known at the time,” Levin said. “There were news reports in a number of outlets. We actually decided to take some action. The idea wasn’t just to bang pots and pans, but get something done.”

Levin, a seasoned litigator who formerly worked in the Reagan Justice Department, doubted the wisdom of getting the IRS actually to take the matter seriously. “It wasn’t about forcing the IRS to investigate the IRS,” he explained, “but about persuading the right people to look into it.”

Levin sent the information he and Landmark had gathered to the inspector general at the Treasury Department.

“There’s been some misreporting out there about what happened” when the IG’s agents came to his office and interviewed him. “They weren’t investigating me. They were interviewing me for the information that we had given them in the form of a letter. They were very professional and thorough.”

Levin’s real criticism is reserved for legislative Republicans who might have taken an interest earlier.

“I’m hearing from congress that this is outrageous — and it is outrageous — but why wasn’t anything done? There needs to be hearings,” Levin said. “But why weren’t they already doing hearings?”

“All of these groups were complaining at the time,” Levin noted. “What the House of Representatives should have done is taken these complaints more seriously. They should have already conducted a full investigation and subpoenaed records and brought in members of the Tea Party with their legitimate complaints about abuses. But Congress didn’t do that.”

Levin continued: “They have hearings on everything. It’s about time that Congress got serious about its oversight and investigative responsibilities. What are they doing when scores of people are coming forward?”

Levin pointed out that Landmark was able to put together a full report despite not having the powers of subpoena that Congress has.

He thinks that Congress didn’t hold the type of hearings they should have because the GOP establishment “bought into this argument that these were right-wingers who were not reliable, and they didn’t want to put their political necks on the line. The House must take its responsibility for investigating corruption seriously, much more seriously.”

Levin is critical of the lack of due diligence by House Republicans.

“What I see now is a lot of positioning and chest beating,” he said. “It was outrageous enough last year for a full House committee that has subpoena power, that can put people under oath, that has paid staff who are experienced in this sort of thing, hold perfunctory hearings, one or two or three. Getting promises that nothing bad is going on. That is simply not good enough. When you have dozens of individuals and organizations coming forward and you ignore them or hold perfunctory hearings, that is simply unacceptable to me.”

“It’s inexplicable why [Speaker of the House John Boehner] won’t act responsibly,” Levin said. “Tea Party groups told committee chairmen and subcommittee chairmen that they were being abused, and they held their hearings and sent off a letter or two and that was the end of that.”

According to Levin, Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, sent only a perfunctory three-paragraph letter that essentially asked the IRS if it was breaking the law.

“The Issa committee is patting itself on the back for sending a letter to Congress,” Levin noted. “They have power to investigate these things, the power to put people under oath. They have a way to get the bottom of these things that Landmark Legal and others do not.”

The political left “was going to smother the Tea Party movement with massive regulations and intimidation and the GOP establishment went along with it. You read these questions [in the IRS audits of Tea Party groups] and they are intimidating. Way, way out of line and clear First Amendment violations, among other violations.”

“Any group that supported limited government, constitutional government and education about the Constitution was targeted.”

The political class, Levin said, “treats the Tea Party as second class citizens” as “kooky.”

“Everybody wants to bring out their big gavels. I’m all for it. But what I’m saying is that this almost didn’t happen. This could have been going on and maybe nobody would have known about it.”