Thursday, April 10, 2014

Top Democrat Oversight Committee Member Helped IRS Target Conservatives?

English: Congressional portrait of Elijah Cumm...
Congressman Elijah Cummings. Investigates The IRS, While Helping the IRS to Suppress the Tea Party and Conservatives?
The Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is alleging collusion between The Top Democrat member of that Committee and his staff, and the IRS in the targeting of Conservatives for additional scrutiny.

The Oversight Committee is one of the congressional bodies that is investigating the IRS's political persecution against the Tea Party organizations and Conservatives. The allegations of collusion between the IRS and Democrat Oversight Committee members and their staff raise questions about Democrats in that committee acting to slow, thwart, sabotage, or otherwise impede the investigation into the IRS abuses.

A media dispatch from Chairman of the Oversight Committee Darrel Issa referenced a letter signed by five subcommittee chairmen, in which Issa details allegations that Congressman Elijah Cummings worked with the IRS to request information about the targeted group, "True The Vote."  In the letter, Chairman Issa gets immediately to the point:
"...The Committee has engaged in a comprehensive and thorough examination of the IRS targeting of tax-exempt applicants.  From the very outset, you have worked to obstuct the investigation, even declaring on national television after only a few weeks of fact-finding that the "case is solved."  New IRS documents identified by the Commitee raise disturbing concerns about your possible motivations for opposing this investigation and unwillingness to lend your support to efforts to obtain the testimony of former IRS exempt Organizations Director Lois G. Lerner..."
The Congressmen explain their inquiry with details that have come to light during the investigation of the IRS by the Oversight Committee:

  • The IRS and the Oversight Minority made numerous requests for virtually identical information from True the Vote, raising concerns that the IRS improperly shared protected taxpayer information with Rep. Cummings’ staff.
  • Five days after Cummings contacted True the Vote seeking “copies of all training materials used for volunteers, affiliates, or other entities,” the IRS sent True the Vote a letter requesting True the Vote provide “a copy of [True the Vote’s] volunteer registration form,” “…the process you use to assign volunteers,” “how you keep your volunteers in teams,” and “how your volunteers are deployed … following the training they receive by you.”
  • On or before January 25, 2013, Cummings’ staff requested more information from the IRS about True the Vote.  The head of the IRS Legislative Affairs office e-mailed several IRS officials, including former Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, that “House Oversight Committee Minority staff” sought information about True the Vote.  On Monday, January 28, Lerner wrote to her deputy Holly Paz: “Did we find anything?”  When Paz informed her minutes later that she had not heard back about True the Vote’s information, Lerner replied: “thanks – check tomorrow please.
  • On January 31, 2013, Paz attached True the Vote’s form 990s, which she authorized the IRS to share with the Minority staff.  Neither Cummings nor the IRS shared these requested documents with the Oversight Majority.  None of the Minority’s communications about True the Vote with the IRS were shared with the Committee Majority even though Ranking Member Cummings frequently complains about the Committee Majority contacting individuals on official matters without the involvement of Minority staff.
  • Cummings denied that his staff, “might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies” at a February 6, 2014, Subcommittee hearing: 
  • Ms. Mitchell:                      We want to get to the bottom of how these coincidences happened, and we’re going to try to figure out whether any – if there was any staff of this committee that might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies.  We don’t know that, but we – we’re going to do everything we can do to try to get to the bottom of how did this all happen.  
  • Mr. Cummings.                 Will the gentleman yield?
  • Mr. Meadows.                                  Yes.
  • Mr. Cummings.                 I want to thank the gentleman for his courtesy.  What she just said is absolutely incorrect and not true.

Issa tells Cumings that:

"...Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, records of communication between your staff and IRS officials--which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff--indicate otherwise.  As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff's undisclosed contacts with the IRS..."

Does Issa then imply that there's a possible attempt to cover up Cummings' "collusion" with the IRS?  He tells Cummings in the letter:

"...the involvement of IRS officials at the center of the targeting scandal responding to your requests, raise serious questions about your actions and motivations for trying to bring this investigation to a premature end.  If the Committee, as you publicly suggested in June 2013, 'wrap[ped] this case up and moved on ' at that time, the Committee may have never seen documents raising questions about your possible coordination with the IRS in communications that excluded the Committee Majority.  Your frequent complaints about the Committee Majority contacting individuals on official matters without the involvement of Minority staff make reasons for your staff's secretive correspondence with the IRS even more mysterious..."

Today the Oversight Committee is convening to consider a "...Resolution Recommending that the House of Representatives Find Lois G. Lerner, Former Director, Exempt Organizations, Internal Revenue Service, In Contempt of Congress for Refusal to Comply With a Subpoena Duly Issued by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform..."

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