Another blow to Darrell Issa’s witch hunt into the I.R.S. “targetting conservatives” has been dealt:
In 2010, a tiny Palestinian-rights group called Minnesota Break the Bonds applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status. Two years and a lot of prodding later, the I.R.S. sent the group’s leaders a series of questions and requests almost identical to the ones it was sending to Tea Party groups at the time.
What are “the qualifications and experience” of Break the Bonds instructors? Does the group “present a sufficiently full and fair explanation of the relevant facts” about the West Bank and Gaza? Provide copies of pamphlets, brochures or other literature distributed at group events? Reveal all fees collected and “any voluntary contributions” made at group functions? Provide a template of petitions, postcards and any other material used to influence legislation, and a detailed accounting of the time and money spent to influence state legislators?
The controversy that erupted in May has focused on an ideological question: Were conservative groups singled out for special treatment based on their politics, or did the I.R.S. equally target liberal groups? But a closer look at the I.R.S. operation suggests that the problem was less about ideology and more about how a process instructing reviewers to “be on the lookout” for selected terms was applied to any group that mentioned certain words in its application.
Organizations approached by The New York Times based on specific “lookout list” warnings, like advocates for people in “occupied territories” and “open source software developers,” told similar stories of long waits, intrusive inquiries and bureaucratic hassles that pointed to no particular bias but rather to a process that became too rigid and too broad. The lists often did point to legitimate issues: partisan political campaign organizations seeking tax-exempt status, or commercial businesses hoping to cloak themselves as nonprofit groups. But even I.R.S. officials say lookout list warnings were often pursued in a ham-handed or overly rigid way.
So the IRS is guilty of being….well the IRS. There is no crime in that.
But what about Darrell Issa? This is the man who turned this into a huge controversy. He has accused the President of using the IRS as a political hit squad. People have lost their jobs over the investigation, yet he keeps pushing on, despite even members of his own party are backing away:
Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA) said that Republicans still “haven’t proved political motivation” behind the agency’s scrutiny.
Meanwhile, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told the newspaper that, in hindsight, it seems unlikely that President Barack Obama used the IRS to go after his political enemies.
Now let’s think about exactly what Issa is doing. He is accusing Obama of using the government to target his political enemies. But isn’t that exactly what Issa is doing himself? Issa is using his committee to manufacture a partisan witch hunt after the President of the United States.
For proof of this, here is something I posted just last week:
The Treasury inspector general (IG) whose report helped drive the IRS targeting controversy says it limited its examination to conservative groups because of a request from House Republicans.
A spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, said they were asked by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”
If Issa wouldn’t have made that demand, then we would have known that the IRS was looking at other groups, even non-political, before now. But that wouldn’t play into Issa’s attack on the President. So instead, Issa decides to abuse government resources by having an government employee do a half-assed investigation.
Then we have this. Back in May I posted that Darrell Issa knew the IRS was looking into Tea Party groups over a year ago. So all of this was really nothing new. But I did wonder when I posted that, why did Issa wait? Now it appears he had to wait for more evidence to be manufactured.
This isn’t some game going on. People have lost their jobs over Issa’s bullshit witch hunt. Our government has spent tons of money on it, sending out subpoenas, having employees fly in to testify, using government employees to make incomplete reports, etc., etc., etc. It’s time for Darrell Issa to be held responsible. The House Leadership needs to remove him as chair of the Government Oversight Committee and an ethics investigation opened up. Accountability must be had here.
If a prosecutor manufacturers evidence in a criminal trial they can be convicted and/or disbarred. A member of the United States Congress should be held to no less of a standard.