Totally shameless, but would you expect anything less from this crew? The Internal Revenue Service is refusing to comply with Congressional investigators' requests for documents related to the agency's improper political targeting program, and they're doing so in particularly galling fashion:
Internal Revenue Service officials have invoked a Watergate-era law designed to protect private citizens' tax returns to justify their refusal to turn over documents requested by the House Ways and Means Committee. In its first official response to a May 14 bipartisan request from the committee for information and documents related to the agency's illegal harassment of conservative, evangelical and pro-Israel groups, the IRS told lawmakers on June 4 that Section 6103 of the federal tax code allows it to exempt itself from compliance with such congressional requests. The provision originally was written during the Watergate scandal to protect U.S. citizens and shield their private tax records from prying government officials. Committee chairman Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., said in a statement that the committee will continue pressing the IRS for the requested documents and information.
Ways and Means Committee staff have warned IRS officials that they are using the obscure provision to protect potentially illegal conduct by government employees or to withhold politically damaging information. "Section 6103 must not be used by the IRS as a shield," a committee staffer said in an email to reporters. The agency's tactics raise "the question of whether the IRS will broadly apply section 6103 to avoid divulging politically hazardous or potentially embarrassing information."
Most Americans regardless of party believe political reasons drove the Internal Revenue Service to single out for burdensome and unnecessary scrutiny some conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll out Thursday. The public splits across party lines, though, about whether President Obama and his administration were involved. Sixty-eight percent of respondents- 80 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents - said they think the IRS targeting was motivated by politics, rather than adherence to the tax code policy. But while forty-four percent think the Obama administration had a hand in the targeting, 40 percent said they believe the agency acted on its own.
The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography