Darrell Issa subpoenas Treasury Department in IRS probe

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
Font Size:

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman and California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa has subpoenaed the U.S. Treasury Department for documents related to the IRS targeting scandal.

The Treasury Department, headed by Obama appointee and former Obama White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, said that it is cooperating with the subpoena.

Issa also accused acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel of obstructing his investigation Friday in the final IRS hearing before congressional summer recess.

“When you eliminate search terms unilaterally you are obstructing us by limiting the scope of discovery. Do you understand that, Mr. Werfel?” Issa asked Werfel, the May  16 Obama appointee. Werfel previously pledged to clean up the agency and to launch his own thorough internal investigation into the targeting scandal. The Oversight Committee asked the IRS for the 81 search terms they used to flag organizations applying for tax-exempt status, but the IRS only provided them with 12.

It is unclear what Issa hopes to find in his subpoena of Jack Lew’s Treasury Department.

Lew, who served as White House chief of staff from January 2012 to January 2013 as Obama was running for re-election, has had a number of positions in the administration. He previously served as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where he was both preceded and succeeded in an acting capacity by Jeffrey Zients. Zients served as deputy director of management under Lew at OMB.

As The Daily Caller revealed, Zients met with then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and Shulman’s political aide Jonathan Davis and spokesman Frank Keith at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House complex on April 24, 2012.

Only Zients, who was in charge of OMB at the time, and the three men from the IRS attended the meeting, according to White House visitor logs. Their appointment ended more than eight hours after it began, according to the logs.

The next day, April 25, the IRS’s chief counsel’s office — led by William Wilkins, who met with Obama at the White House that same week — sent Washington-based IRS officials “additional comments on the draft guidance.” These guidelines covered approving or denying tea party tax-exempt applications, according to a report on the IRS scandal compiled by Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George.

Lew was White House chief of staff when these meetings occurred.

Zients has been out of the country for an extended period of time since resigning quietly from OMB in April 2013. A White House source told The Daily Caller in late July that Zients’ extended absence from the country was causing concern within the administration. OMB claimed July 23 that Zients was then visiting his in-laws in South Africa. Zients’ current whereabouts are unknown.

Follow Patrick on Twitter