Today's IRS hearing featured a newsworthy flurry of activity at the very beginning, then promptly devolved into the now-familiar soup of "to the best of my recollection" evasions from former IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman. Two significant facts did emerge, however -- no thanks to Shulman, who remembers nothing of note and takes responsibility for nothing, including his decision not to correct his inaccurate testimony to Congress about targeting last year. First, we discovered that the IRS' in-house review of the abusive targeting ended in the spring of 2012, months before the presidential election. Neither the public nor Congress were made aware of this probe's existence, let alone its findings:
Rep. Darrel Issa, the committee's chairman, said that the committee learned just yesterday that the IRS completed its own investigation a year before a Treasury Department Inspector General report was completed. But despite the IRS recognizing in May 2012 that its employees were treating right-wing groups differently from other organizations, Issa said, IRS personnel withheld those conclusions from legislators. 'Just yesterday the committee interviewed Holly Paz, the director of exempt organizations, rulings and agreements, division of the IRS,' Issa said. 'While a tremendous amount of attention is centered about the Inspector General's report, or investigation, the committee has learned from Ms. Paz that she in fact participated in an IRS internal investigation that concluded in May of 2012 - May 3 of 2012 - and found essentially the same thing that Mr. George found more than a year later.' 'Think about it,' he continued: 'For more than a year, the IRS knew that it had inappropriately targeted groups of Americans based on their political beliefs, and without mentioning it, and in fact without honestly answering questions that were the result of this internal investigation.'
The Internal Revenue Service's own investigation -- which ended roughly a year ago -- determined that wrongful targeting practices had occurred. That pertinent information was kept in-house and under wraps until now. Emails reveal that the Inspector General's office found out the IRS' internal probe uncovered wrongdoing last summer. Secondly, the Inspector General's report was scheduled to drop in September of last year, but was repeatedly delayed well into 2013. Hmmm. Meanwhile, at another Capitol Hill hearing today, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew couldn't or wouldn't say whether embattled IRS official Lois Lerner has done anything wrong:
Democratic operatives have little to do but desperately flog the "Republican overreach!" talking point, which several recent polls have debunked. An example from one DSCC shill:
Looks like NRSC isn't heeding warnings from Cook, Rothenberg, & many GOP operatives not to overreach on IRS scandal #like1998— Matt Canter (@mattcanter) May 22, 2013
Maybe Mr. Canter missed Democratic Congressman Stephen Lynch's indignant diatribe earlier calling for a special counsel to investigate the IRS if witnesses continue to duck and dodge. I'll leave you with this gem from Sen. Ted Cruz's twitter feed:
UPDATE - Good questions: "Why was George, the IG, reluctant to release 'incremental information'
when the IRS itself had concluded in May 2012 that its anti-conservative
criteria for tax-exempt orgs were FUBAR? Didn’t his office specifically
say they’d keep the committee updated?" The Inspector General was bound to keep Congress up to date on his investigation. He did not, according to Issa. Why not? I say again, hmm.