On June 13, Rep. Darrell Issa and Rep. Dave Camp sent a seven-page letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew asking for a mountain of documents. As part of their “investigation of the Internal Revenue Service’s politicization of the tax-exempt application review process,” the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the chairman on Ways and Means, respectively, requested “materials aiding the Committees’ responsibility to the American people of understanding the nature and scope of the IRS’s scrutiny or groups based on political criteria.” The deadline is noon on June 27.
There were nine specific demands for all manner of communications and documentation among treasury employees related to various aspects of the IRS “scandal.” But request number eight is the sore thumb of the bunch. “All documents and communications sent by, received by, or copied to any employee of the Department of the Treasury between January 1, 2009, and the present referring or relating to the establishment of the IRS Affordable Care Act Office and the corresponding personnel and staffing decisions for the Affordable Care Act Office.”
Obamacare has nothing to do with the sloppy practices of workers in the IRS’s Cincinnati office. Still, that hasn’t stopped Republicans from making the rhetorical link between the two. On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul told protesters at a Tea Party rally, “Anybody want to fire some IRS agents? Why don’t we start with the 16,000 IRS agents that are going to implement ObamaCare.
But number eight of the Issa-Camp letter is the very definition of a fishing expedition, and it is the first time the IRS scandal and Obamacare have been officially linked in a congressional investigation. And it is a barely disguised attempt to find something—anything—that could be used to undermine President Obama’s greatest legislative accomplishment.
I reached out to Issa’s office to ask what’s up with the Obamacare stuff. His spokeswoman told me in an email, “Sarah Hall Ingram and a number of others worked in the tax-exempt government entities division before moving to the Affordable Care Act office.”
So, is there a concern that those employees might or would selectively apply the tax provisions of Obamacare? Watkins said, “It’s just asking for information, not expressing a concern.”
If there’s no concern then why ask the question? Also, it should be pointed out that Lew told Bloomberg’s Al Hunt during an interview in May that Ingram had moved from the tax-exempt office to the ACA office before the troubling actions began
Look, I’m no fan of conspiracy theories. But when it comes to the contention that the real aim of the IRS “scandal” is to undermine the agency as a means to get at Obamacare, the Issa letter shows Finney was onto something.