Congressional inquiry finds White House didn’t use IRS to target political groups

Congressional inquiry finds White House didn’t use IRS to target political groups
A congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s mistreatment of conservative political groups shows there was no coordination between the agency and the White House.

The House Oversight Committee report, clocking in at 226 pages, said that an 18-month investigation into whether the IRS targeted conservative political groups in a conspiracy with the White House shows no coordination. The IRS admitted that before the 2012 election, it delayed tax exemption applications by groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, but said it was not motivated by partisanship.

Republican lawmakers, however, maintained the delays were politically motivated and under instruction from the White House, despite the Obama administration’s denials.

READ MORE:IRS: Americans should expect delays in tax refunds this year

The investigation involved several contentious hearings, with subpoenas issued to compel testimony from administration officials. During these hearings, the chairman of the committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), accused the IRS of a Watergate-style cover-up and administration officials of obstructing his investigation.

The report, issued by Issa, says that language used in emails collected by the committee suggests that officials were trying to find ways to take action against groups they disliked. For example, an IRS official said of a conservative group, “I think there may be a number of ways to deny them,” adding, “This sounds like a bad org,” and, “This org gives me an icky feeling.”

The investigation involved millions of documents and dozens of interviews with Obama administration officials. The report says that “IRS officials failed to limit their professional judgments to enforcing the tax code and instead inserted their own beliefs and judgments into federal matters to influence outcomes and decisions.

READ MORE:IRS head warns of 'miserable' 2015 tax-filing season

Issa won’t continue as committee chair in the new Congress, but the new chair, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, (R-Utah), said the investigation is not over, as thousands of IRS emails have been recovered that were thought to have been lost in computer crashes.

“It is revealing that the Republicans – yet again – are leaking cherry-picked excerpts of documents to support their preconceived political narrative,” Rep Elijah E. Cummings (D-Maryland) told The New York Times, “without allowing committee members to even see their conclusions or vote on them first.”

Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, compared the IRS inquiry to Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s investigation of suspected communists in the 1950s, and was sharply critical of the report.