Cummings: Unnamed ‘conservative Republican’ behind IRS abuse

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Rep. Elijah Cummings has yet to reveal the name of the “conservative Republican” IRS agent he claims started the agency’s improper targeting of conservative groups, despite evidence that the targeting was overseen by a registered Democrat working out of Washington, D.C.

Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland and the top Democrat on the House oversight committee, claimed this week that an unnamed Republican manager in the IRS’s Cincinnati office started the agency’s targeting of conservative groups, and that “the case is solved” with no evidence of White House wrongdoing.

Cummings claimed in a letter to Republican Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa, dated June 9, that his staff had interviewed a “conservative Republican” manager from the IRS’ Cincinnati office who took the blame for the improper targeting.

A spokesperson for Cummings did not return repeated requests for comment as to the identity of the IRS agent.

“Committee staff conducted a key interview last week with the IRS manager who supervised the team of screeners that evaluates applications for tax exempt status in Cincinnati, and this official stated that he is a ‘conservative Republican’ with 21 years of experience at the IRS,” Cummings wrote in his letter. Cummings wrote that his staff interviewed the “conservative Republican” for more than five hours, and that the source contradicted Issa’s claim of possible White House involvement.

But as The Daily Caller reported, Washington-based IRS lawyer Carter C. Hull, a registered Democrat, had instructed Cincinnati-based IRS employee Elizabeth Hofacre to target tea party groups and provided her a copy of a letter he wrote to a conservative group requesting additional information in an audit.

“I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull’s influence or input,” Hofacre said in an interview with congressional investigators. Another Cincinnati IRS employee said that Washington was “basically throwing us underneath the bus.”

At least five different IRS offices across the country engaged in the targeting of conservative groups.

Cummings, who did not name the “conservative Republican” in his letter, later said that Issa’s investigation into potential White House wrongdoing is based on “wild accusations” in an interview with MSNBC host Al Sharpton.

“Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on, to be frank with you,” Cummings said on CNN Sunday.

Cummings’ letter also blasted Issa for supposedly politicizing the IRS investigation.

“Over the past three years as Chairman, you have made a series of unsubstantiated allegations against the President, the White House, and senior Administration officials with little or no evidence to support your claims. Despite repeated urgings to focus on gathering facts in a bipartisan manner, you have made more and more extreme accusations with less and less evidence …Your actions over the past three years do not reflect a responsible, bipartisan approach to investigations and the Committee’s credibility has been damaged as a result,” Cummings wrote to Issa.

“Your approach in all of these cases has been to accuse first, and then go in search of evidence to back up your claims. Rather than apologizing or correcting the record when the evidence does not fit your narrative, you have selectively leaked excerpts of interview transcripts, documents, and other information, and you have withheld evidence that directly contradicts your claims, is exculpatory, or provides a more complete and fair understanding of the facts,” Cummings wrote.

Issa, for his part, snapped back at Cummings with a reply statement.

“I strongly disagree with Ranking Member Cummings’ assertion that we know everything we need to know about inappropriate targeting of Tea Party groups by the IRS and the case is, in his word, ‘solved.’ His extreme and reckless assertions are a signal that his true motivation is stopping needed Congressional oversight and he has no genuine interest in working, on a bipartisan basis, to expose the full truth,” Issa said.

“The American public wants to know why targeting occurred and who was involved. The testimony excerpts Ranking Member Cummings revealed today did not provide anything enlightening or contradict other witness accounts. The only thing Ranking Member Cummings left clear in his comments today is that if it were up to him the investigation would be closed.  Fortunately, the decision to close the investigation is not his to make,” Issa said.

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