Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who is the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, played unfair and dirty during a House Oversight Committee hearing regarding the IRS scandal yesterday.
Towards the end of the hearing, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was prepared to make a statement and pose a question. However, Issa cut Cummings short after announcing that he “can see no point in going further. I have no expectation that Ms. Lerner will cooperate with this committee.”
During the hearing, Issa questioned former IRS official Lois Lerner who was apparently involved in the scandal where the IRS allegedly targeted Tea Party and conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status during the 2010 and 2012 elections. When questioned about her leadership over the IRS division in question, she pleaded the fifth, not responding to questions. Issa slammed his gavel and adjourned the hearing. Then things got tense.
During Cummings’ address, in which he attempted to pose a question that went unasked, Issa kept asserting that the hearing was adjourned and that the attendees were free to leave. When Cummings’ mic came back on, Issa kept motioning for the audio technician to cut it. This happened several times. Cummings’, who has shared a long-standing rivalry with Issa, became frustrated and berated Issa about how the chairman oversaw the hearing.
“Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this,” said Cummings. “you just cannot do this. We’re better than that as a country. We’re better than that as a committee.”
After being cut off another time, Cummings became infuriated, coming to a near shout. “I want to ask a question. What are we hiding? What’s the big deal?” he asked when Issa prevented Cummings from speaking. After the hearing, Cummings, frustrated, spoke to the press and said Issa “shut out completely” the Democrats during the hearing.
Last June, Cummings disclosed transcripts of an interview between the committee and an IRS screening manager. The transcripts revealed that the IRS didn’t single out Tea Party and conservative groups as Issa has asserted. The IRS developed “Be on the Lookout” (BOLO) lists which screened liberal, progressive groups, as well as conservative groups.
After conducting a 30-day review of IRS operations upon his appointment last May, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel noted that the agency did use improper terms when screening the groups, like “progressive” and “tea party.” However, the review found no “evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone in the IRS” regarding the so-called scandal.
The IRS scandal investigation has remained little more than just a wild-goose chase for Darrell Issa. The California Republican is still trying to pin a supposed scandal on the Obama administration and Democrats and has become a waste of valuable taxpayer money and congressional time. Issa is merely trying to contain any information that will further weaken the Republicans’ argument that the IRS picked on the poor, little GOP.