In the wake of Republicans continuing to make accusations (sometimes going so far as to embarrass themselves by publicly fantasizing about criminal allegations) against the Obama administration in spite of the evidence to the contrary, Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) demanded to know how much this is costing. They suggest the total is “well into the millions of dollars.”
The Democrats asked IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to detail how much taxpayer money and resources the IRS has spent to accommodate the six Congressional investigations in a letter dated February 7. It reads in part:
Dear Mr. Koskinen:
Congratulations on your recent confirmation as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Your bi-partisan Senate confirmation marks a new beginning for the agency. We are glad that the IRS has implemented all of the recommendations proposed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s May 14, 2013 audit report.
We very much look forward to working with you and appreciate your commitment to cooperate with Congress. We are concerned, however, that Congressional Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars and continuously using the IRS “investigations” for political purposes for the November election. We are writing today to request an accounting of taxpayer dollars and federal employee time spent to date on these investigations. This is occurring during a time when there is a need for adequate resources to better serve taxpayers during the filing season.
In your letter to our Committees dated January 28, 2014, you cited a number of figures about the work that the IRS has performed at the direction of Congress related to the six investigations into the May 14, 2013 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report on the processing of tax-exempt applications. Specifically, more than 150 people at the IRS, including Chief Counsel attorneys, litigation support staff and IRS personnel, have worked for more than 70,000 hours combined to produce over 500,000 pages of documents. The IRS has responded to more than 50 Congressional letters and hundreds of informal Congressional requests, facilitated more than 60 transcribed interviews by Congressional staff of current and former IRS employees, and IRS personnel have answered questions related to the subjects of these investigations at 14 Congressional hearings.
A conservative accounting suggests the total of taxpayer dollars spent by the IRS to accommodate the investigation would be well into the millions of dollars. The IRS has been very detailed in providing us with statistics related to the investigations, and I hope that this additional information also can be obtained.
The Democrats are correct to conclude that these hearings are about the upcoming election. They are providing free soundbites for every Republican who rails at the empty hopes of a scandal. Meanwhile, Issa’s committee deliberately withheld evidence that would have proven their entire IRS witch hunt to be the politically driven farce it is.
The Democrats are growing weary of the clownshow, and at the very least, they’re going to get an accounting of just what the drunken frat boys of the GOP are charging the taxpayers for this year’s shiny object distraction.
We could ask why Republicans are such cowards that they will not run on the issues or their policies, but we know the answer to that question. You wouldn’t like their policies, because they benefit the top 2%. So, another witch hunt it will be.
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.