Darrell Issa (Calif.) and Dave Camp (Mich.), both Republicans, are the chairmen of, respectively, the House committees on Oversight and Ways and Means.
Just three months ago, Lois G. Lerner, a senior official in the IRS’s tax-exempt organizations division, publicly admitted that the agency targeted taxpayers because of their political beliefs. Until that point, despite years of inquiries from Congress, the IRS had continued to deny that it was targeting taxpayers, even though officials had long known about the conduct. With the truth out about the targeting of tea party groups, Lerner, then-acting Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Steven Miller and even the president’s own spokesman were quick to blame the entire episode on our front-line workers in Cincinnati.
Interview after interview of IRS employees by congressional investigators, however, began to expose the inconsistencies in the administration’s narrative. There were no “rogue” agents, only employees who followed the implicit or explicit directions of more senior IRS officials in Washington. When Washington told Cincinnati IRS employees to “hold” other tea party cases while officials in Washington scrutinized early “test cases” concerning the group, they did it. When Washington told them to assign a tea party case coordinator, they obliged. Employees also told investigators that the IRS chief counsel’s office was not, as the American people were first led to believe, merely involved in fixing problems once discovered. Employees explained, and one testified publicly, that this office — led by one of only two political appointees at the IRS — participated in scrutinizing and delaying tea party applications.