An IRS manager, describing himself as a conservative Republican, told congressional investigators that he and a colleague made the decision to give the Tea Party extra scrutiny, according to Reuters. An official interview transcript was released yesterday by Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, which cited the conservative manager saying he and “an underling set aside ‘Tea Party’ and ‘patriot’ groups that had applied for tax-exempt status.”
The IRS manager and employee evidently felt the need to further scrutinize these conservative groups because “the organizations appeared to pose a new precedent that could affect future IRS filings.”
Cummings, a Democrat on the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee is one of the Committee members who has been conducting an investigation into the IRS/Tea Party scandal that has been causing political controversy for weeks now. Cummings told CNN that he feels this interview proves politics was not behind the IRS’s actions.
“Based on everything I’ve seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on,” Cummings added.
The IRS incident has unfortunately been easy fuel for the Tea Party fire. Tea party and other conservative groups have been expressing outrage over the IRS holding up their tax exemptions, and, as they assert, “harassing” them with questions, and leaking their donors lists to political opponents.
Many Republicans have likened the IRS’s scrutiny of conservative tax-exemption filings to a political witch hunt, saying that the groups were targeted because they oppose the president. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called it “Runaway government at its worst.” “Who knows who they’ll target next?” he said.
For a group whose extreme members already claimed the government was spying on them, and are avidly anti-government and anti-Obama, the IRS attention has been further fodder for their cause. So it will be interesting to see the response to the House Oversight Committee’s investigation, though it seems unlikely conservatives will accept that it was one of their own who felt the need to examine their filings more closely.
Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman for the House Oversight Committee, made it clear he disagrees with Cummings, and still believes the added focus on Tea Party and other conservative groups came from Washington, D.C. and was politically motivated, The Raw Story reports. Issa “vowed to press ahead with the investigation,” and said the IRS manager’s testimony “did not provide anything enlightening or contradict other witness accounts.”
Alisha is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.