On Wednesday’s NOW with Alex Wagner, guest host Joy Reid pointed out that newly released transcripts of interviews with staff from the IRS field office in Cincinnati showed no evidence that the IRS was targeting President Obama’s political enemies as House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa had claimed earlier this month.
The National Journal’s Ron Fournier disagreed with Reid’s assertion that pure politics, rather than wrongdoing, was at the heart of Obama’s decision to fire IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.
“No, he dismissed the head of the IRS because the IRS admitted what they did was wrong,” Fournier said. “The only question is how far up did it go.”
Reid argued that the political firestorm set off by the tax agency’s targeting of conservative groups was obscuring the real scandal–namely, the preponderance of brazenly political groups (including many Tea Party groups) benefiting from tax-exempt status.
According to The Center for Responsive Politics, conservative groups made up 85% of all 501(c) campaign spending in the 2012 cycle.
“To me the real scandal here is that we have groups seeking tax-exemption that were doing things like handing out Romney campaign literature,” Reid said. “For God’s sake, if that IRS unit is not supposed to investigate that and find out whether we should be investigating that, whether I should be subsidizing that with my tax dollars, I think that’s the real scandal here.”
Former White House spokesman Bill Burton took a more middle-of-the-road view.
“I do think that there is agreement that there was some wrongdoing, that there were some things that happened that the president didn’t think was right,” he said. “But I think that Issa is making a fool of himself continuing to go down this path of making wild accusations, making statements that he has no basis of fact to make.”