A little more than a week ago, Rep. Darrell Issa was sure the Cincinnati IRS’s enhanced scrutiny of Tea Party-related groups for tax-exempt status “was a problem that was coordinated, in all likelihood, right out of Washington headquarters.” No evidence has surfaced to support this claim. Now Issa is keeping the issue alive by withholding transcripts and attacking fellow Oversight Committee reps.
To validate what was admittedly a gut feeling, Issa and a bipartisan group of committee members conducted private interviews with Cincinnati IRS workers at a local office in charge of handling the 501(c)(4) applications. Suggestive excerpts of those interviews were released, and Issa promised CNN’s Candy Crowley two Sundays ago that “the whole transcript will be put out” eventually.
The top Democrat on Issa’s committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings, sees no problem with doing so right away. “I’ve said by Friday, if the Chairman doesn’t want to release them like he promised–like he promised--what we will do, we’ll do the redactions…and then submit them to the public, to the media, so you all can make your own judgment,” Cummings said on Hardball Monday. “There’s nothing in those transcripts that I’m afraid of.”
In response, Issa rejected the idea and took a few swipes at Cummings himself:
“Your decision to make that declaration in a very public way was irresponsible and emblematic of your general aversion to conducting meaningful oversight of the administration. In fact, any time the Committee endeavors to engage in such an effort, your participation is generally limited to obstructing or criticizing the process, if you decide to participate at all. I urge you to adopt a more responsible approach.”
Democrats have already released excerpts of their own which show that the IRS manager behind the Tea Party screening identifies himself as a “conservative Republican.” When asked whether the review of Tea Party-related groups was meant to target President Obama’s political enemies, the manager said, “I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development.”
Perhaps this is why Issa lashed out at Cummings. “Darrell Issa had his hearings and they were very disappointing for Darrell Issa,” said msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell on the Rewrite Wednesday, “because his conclusion about the case–a conclusion he reached before hearing a moment of testimony–was not supported by that testimony.”