A scandal is an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong that causes general public outrage, and fabricating scandals has become a favorite tool of Republicans in Congress to attack the African American President and waste valuable taxpayer time and money instead of doing the jobs their constituents sent them to Washington to do. The Republican problem is that since the so-called scandals they have attempted to tie to the President were fabricated, they presented no evidence that the White House was involved in any wrongdoing, but that has not dissuaded them from perpetuating the same phony scandals over and over. This week Republicans resurrected their fabricated Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal in an attempt to counter the President’s assertion during an interview with Bill O’Reilly where he said “there’s not even a smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS and to oppose new IRS guidelines for 501(c)(4) social welfare groups conservatives use to conceal dark money contributors’ identities.
First, Republicans are attempting to pressure I.R.S. commissioner John Koskinen to withdraw proposed regulations governing tax-exempt social welfare groups and portrayed the guidelines as a political power play to silence conservatives as if the new rules specified targeting conservative groups. The Republicans are outraged at the regulations to provide guidance to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations on political activities related to candidates that will not be considered to promote social welfare. The guidelines were released in November, and suddenly they are part of the “scandal” House Oversight Committee Chairman and corrupt Darrell Issa initiated in 2012. More on that later.
Several Republicans, including House and Senate leaders, sent a letter to Koskinen calling the rules “an affront to free speech” and indicated that the commissioner would be seen as controlled by the White House if he does not trash the regulations; they want the commissioner to be seen as being controlled by Republicans to conceal conservative “social welfare” groups’ dark money contributors. The letter said, “It is our view that finalizing this proposed rule would make intimidation and harassment of the administration’s political opponents the official policy of the IRS and would allow the Obama administration to use your agency as a partisan tool. This would be a serious error, especially in the light of the recent track record of intimidation at the IRS. It would also cement your reputation as someone who is unable or unwilling to restore the public’s faith in this important agency.”
The letter continued that “The timing of this rule appears calculated to take effect just in time for the mid-term elections, giving the strong appearance of political motivation;” the guidelines were released back in November. Of particular note is the comment delivered by Mitch McConnell, an outright enemy of campaign finance rules and one of the primary instigators in the Citizens United case. McConnell told the IRS commissioner to butt out of conservative’s campaign finance corruption and said, “Mr. Koskinen, you know the IRS has no business regulating free speech.” In McConnell and Republicans’ minds doing the right thing is for Koskinen to stop doing his job and let conservative social welfare non-profits use dark money without accountability and with impunity. What is prescient though, is that the new regulations and Republican opposition to them harkens back to the I.R.S. doing its job and scrutinizing applications for tax-exemption for social welfare groups.
In the House this week, Ways and Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich) said, regarding the so-called scandal involving the IRS targeting teabagger groups, “there continues to be an ongoing investigation, with many documents yet to be uncovered, into how the IRS systematically targeted and abused conservative leaning groups.” It is highly likely that Camp already knows how the IRS came to look into conservative groups because it was House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa’s explicit direction to specifically target teabagger groups. For the record, the IRS did their due diligence and targeted liberal social welfare applications with the words “occupy” and “Progressive” in their names and out of all applications scrutinized, the only known 501(c)(4) applicant to have its status denied happened to be a progressive group.
Last June it was revealed that the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration said they were told by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.” The inspector general’s audit found that groups seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “patriots” in their name did receive extra attention from the IRS, but it was because Issa instructed them to and not because the White House issued an order like Republicans are claiming again to thwart new IRS rules for 501(c)(4) social welfare groups. If Republicans are so enamored with ferreting out Washington corruption, they would immediately launch an investigation into Darrell Issa for explicitly instructing the IRS to target groups with “teabagger,” “patriot,” and “9/12” in their names instead of wasting taxpayer time and money over a manufactured scandal.
Not only did Issa set the IRS up to scrutinize teabagger groups and then spend the next year wasting time and taxpayer money investigating the Obama White House, he profited from his “investigation” conservatives hoped would take down President Obama and cast aspersion on the IRS. Issa’s campaign raised nearly $450,000 more than his previous quarter for the largest fundraising effort since he took office eleven years ago for his effort to portray the Obama Administration as corrupt. Issa’s fabrication led to a still active petition to demand a Congressional Ethics Committee investigation into Issa for purposely manufacturing the IRS scandal and profiting from it.
Issa is still corrupt and on Tuesday two key Democrats on the House Oversight Committee accused him of surreptitiously orchestrating partisan meetings with the federal investigator who issued the report last year on Internal Revenue Service actions. Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) sent a letter to Treasury Department IG Russell George alleging that he held Republican-only meetings at Issa’s request. The letter said, “Chairman Issa’s staff forbade you from including any Democratic committee members or staff in that meeting, and your staff accepted these terms without even informing my office.” Cummings and Connolly asked the inspector general to avoid future meetings that would exclude Democrats, in addition to providing Democratic staff with the briefings they missed.
The only scandal in Washington is Darrell Issa, and it is high time he faces an investigation into why he instructed the inspector general for tax administration to investigate teabaggers with extra scrutiny, profit from the so-called IRS “scandal,” and waste untold taxpayer dollars and time that has not produced, as the President said, “even a smidgeon of corruption” at the Internal Revenue Service or the White House. It is no coincidence that the so-called “scandal” is back in the news about the time the IRS is set to finalize the new guidelines for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt social welfare groups, or as the Republican letter to IRS chief Koskinen said “the timing” of the phony scandal’s resurrection “appears to be calculated just in time for the midterm elections, giving the strong appearance of political motivation.” The phony scandals have all been politically motivated and the most corrupt Republican in Washington, Darrell Issa has been at the center of each one; including setting up the IRS to target teabaggers.