Republicans on the House oversight committee have pressed their case this week that the IRS targeting controversy case is not solved, contrary to recent statements by Maryland congressman Elijah Cummings, the panel’s top Democrat.
Cummings on Sunday released excerpts from interviews with IRS employees that suggest actions within the agency’s Cincinnati office — not in Washington — started the targeting campaign.
“Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved,” Cummings said on Sunday. “And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on, to be frank with you.”
House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) responded Tuesday with a letter to Cummings.
“Your public comments that ‘the case is solved’ and that you would ‘wrap this case up and move on’ stand in stark contrast to the facts,” Issa wrote. “There is still much that we do not know about how and why certain applications for tax-exempt status were denied, delayed, or otherwise received heightened scrutiny from the IRS.”
In a joint statement Tuesday, Issa and other key Republicans on the House oversight committee pointed out that the White House promised to find out who was responsible for the targeting campaign and to hold those individuals accountable.
“The White House and congressional Democrats can’t have it both ways,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). “They either believe this wrongdoing deserves a thorough and diligent investigation or they don’t.”
Four other Republicans, Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Patrick McHenry (N.C.), James Lankford (Okla.) and Trey Gowdy (S.C.) piled on with additional criticism.
“While Ranking Member Cummings might be expressing the preferences of the White House and Leader Pelosi and Whip Hoyer, the reality is until the American people have a full understanding of what went wrong at the IRS and why, this investigation should and will continue,” Jordan said.
The joint GOP statement quoted White House press secretary Jay Carney saying: “We are interested in legitimate congressional oversight.”
The question now is whether continued investigations by Cummings’ committee are legitimate. To some extent, the answer remains unclear. Both sides have declined to release transcripts of their full interviews with IRS employees, meaning important context and facts from those discussion could be unknown.
As for accountability, a recent shaken up the IRS has included the resignation of former IRS acting commissioner Steven Miller and the replacement on Monday of Holly Paz, one of the officials who oversaw the Cincinnati tax-exemption division during the targeting campaign.
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