The chief counsel’s office for the Internal Revenue Service, headed by a political appointee of President Obama, helped develop the agency’s problematic guidelines for reviewing “tea party” cases, according to a top IRS attorney. In interviews with congressional investigators, IRS lawyer Carter Hull said his superiors told him that the chief counsel’s office, led by William Wilkins, would need to review some of the first applications the agency screened for additional scrutiny because of potential political activity. Previous accounts from IRS employees had shown that Washington IRS officials were involved in the controversy, but Hull’s comments represent the closest connection to the White House to date.In response, the White House is now referring to the IRS scandal as phony and pretend. More from the Washington Times:
White House press secretary Jay Carney, previewing a speech on the economy President Obama is to deliver Wednesday, said that Washington needs to focus on things important to the country and not “phony” or “pretend scandals.”
The focus “shouldn’t be on the skirmishes that cause gridlock; it shouldn’t be on the phony scandals that have consumed so much attention here, all to come to naught,” Mr. Carney said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.
“It should be focused on what we can do to strengthen and grow the middle class, because when the middle class is thriving, when the middle class is growing, our economy is at its best and that’s what we need to do as we move forward in the 21st century,” he said.
Mr. Carney said that the issue with the IRS, which was discovered to have improperly scrutinized mainly conservative groups seeking nonprofit status, is important. But he argued that Republicans have inflated it into something it’s not.
“I think what we’ve seen is inappropriate activity that the president forcefully came out and said he would not tolerate and that he installed somebody at the IRS to take care of,” he said, accusing the GOP of selectively leaking “cherry-picked information” that only tells one side of the story.
“The president will not tolerate poor performance or inappropriate activity at any agency, and when he finds out about it, he acts on it,” Mr. Carney continued. “But he’s focused on the economy. … He’s not focused on pretend scandals that Republicans on Capitol Hill want to turn into partisan skirmishes.”
Sure, Obama came out to "forcefully" condemn IRS targeting of conservative groups, but it doesn't mean anything when IRS officials involved still haven't been fired. Hell, the Director of Tax Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, who plead the 5th to keep from incriminating herself under oath in front of Congress, was put on administration leave with pay for the summer. In other words, she was given a long paid vacation.
The only person playing "pretend" in the IRS case is Jay Carney. There's nothing phony about officials close to the Obama administration using the IRS to target the President's political enemies. There's nothing phony about the most powerful federal government agency bullying and intimidating American citizens exercising their constitutional rights. I'm sure Becky Gerritson, President of the Wetumpka Tea Party and a victim of IRS targeting and abuse, doesn't feel that all of this just "pretend."
The closer we get to the top of the White House food chain, the more Carney will throw out distractions and blanket statements in an attempt to discredit the entire scandal. I've got news for him, this isn't going away.