The unredacted IRS treasury report was released today and it turns out we’ve all been lied to in a huge way. Progressive groups were singled out for scrutiny just like conservative groups. But worse than that, the IRS Inspector General misled Congress about this fact during testimony and in letters, and the progressive terms were “redacted” in the original report.
Remember this from late June of this year?
J. Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, told Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) in a letter dated Wednesday that the IRS did not use inappropriate criteria to scrutinize groups with “progressives” in their name seeking tax-exempt status.
Well, that was all bull. Someone lied to you and lied good. One of those people is the Inspector General, along with Darrell Issa and probably the entire Republican cabal.
It turns out that the Inspector General’s May 2013 report “left out critical information that skewed the audit’s findings and set the stage for Republicans to make completely baseless accusations in an effort to tarnish the White House,” according to the recipient of the bogus aforementioned letter, Michigan Democrat Sandy Levin.
His full statement is worth a read: “Once again it is clear that the Inspector General’s report left out critical information that skewed the audit’s findings and set the stage for Republicans to make completely baseless accusations in an effort to tarnish the White House. These new documents make it clear the IRS scrutiny of the political activity of 501(c)(4) organizations covered a broad spectrum of political ideology and was not politically motivated.”
“Left out” is nice speak for redacted on purpose, which is nice speak for lied, in this case.
Today we found out via an IRS training presentation that the IRS targeted “ACORN successors” in addition to Democratic-leaning “Emerge” groups — the only groups to actually be denied non-profit status, by the way. They were on the “Be On the Look Out” BOLO lists that we have heard so much carping about.
We also found out that the progressive term “Emerge” was redacted in the presentation when it was originally released by the IRS in early July.
The Inspector General wasn’t honest while testifying in Congress on July 18, as he failed to disclose that the term “progressives” was included on the IRS BOLO lists. According to the unredacted documents, the term was on the BOLO lists.
Rep. Cartwright: Chairman Issa said: So clearly it’s fair to say, though, there was a BOLO for ‘tea party’ but not a BOLO for ‘MoveOn’ or ‘progressive.’
So to be clear, Mr. George, first you said the only BOLOs used to refer cases for political review were the ones described within the report. Then you immediately say there were other BOLOs used to refer cases for political review that were outside your report. Then after chairman Issa pressed you—and I want to thank Chairman Issa for pressing you so hard on this issue—by asking if there was even one group that was flagged with a BOLO for political reasons but wasn’t included in the report, and you said there were no others. Have I read that correctly?”
George: “You’ve read it correctly, but, I mean—”
Cartwright: “But I just want to give you the benefit of the doubt here and allow you to explain yourself, Mr. George. Was it true when you said that the only BOLOs used to refer cases for political review were the ones described within the report?”
George: “That is correct, sir.”
That wasn’t Inspector General J. Russell George’s only episode of lying, but it is the episode that violated laws prohibiting false statements and obstruction of a congressional inquiry (granted, in this case by misleading the inquiry, he was not obstructing the Republican agenda, but he was obstructing the truth, which was supposed to be the objective). We all paid for that inquiry.
On June 26, 2013, the Inspector General wrote to Levin, ‘We did not find any evidence that the criteria you identified labeled ‘Progressives’ were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited.’ Later, George had to amend his inaccurate statements.
On July 17, 2013, Levin urged George to stop blocking the release of the common word used by a group of Democratic-leaning organizations that were treated like the Tea Party organizations.
Today, that word blockage was finally stopped, and that is when the full truth finally came out.
Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who has been pressuring Issa to release the full documents for months now, said, “This new information should put a nail in the coffin of the Republican claims that the IRS’s actions were politically motivated or were targeted at only one side of the political spectrum.”
Oh, okay. So long as Republicans stop attacking over false IRS scandal lies and get back to false Benghazi lies, we’re all good? Not so fast.
Russell George needs to be investigated for obstructing a Congressional inquiry, and that investigation needs to dig into a possible conspiracy with House Republicans and other IRS employees to perpetrate a wholly inaccurate narrative about the IRS targeting conservatives for political reasons.
If you want a government that is remotely accountable, demand an inquiry. The Department of Justice should investigate the Inspector General’s testimony.
Don’t be satisfied with Republicans ceasing their lying about the IRS. That is not good enough. They have a lot of explaining to do.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.