Amid IRS Mess, Democrats Try to Make a Scandal Out of Issa

Democrats are trying to deflect attention from the scandal by discrediting the inquisitor.

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Jonathan Ernst/ REUTERS

Committee Chairman U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) holds a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 22, 2013.

The IRS scandal was an early Christmas gift to Republicans. Flagrant abuse of power by a villain voters already hate is the kind of bombshell that could wreak havoc for months, casting a shadow of scandal on the White House and unifying an opposition party wrestling with internal divisions. Democrats conceded the IRS’s decision to target conservative groups was “outrageous,” as President Barack Obama put it. Just a week ago, the controversy seemed set to sidetrack the president’s legislative agenda. Republicans prepared for a summer of embarrassing hearings.

But an overzealous prosecutor can bungle even an open-and-shut case, and that’s what Democrats hope to portray Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee and the President’s self-styled nemesis. For years, Issa has launched a series of probes into alleged White House malfeasance, from the “Fast and Furious” gun-running controversy to loans the Department of Energy made to the failed green-energy company Solyndra. In both instances, Issa went after high-level scalps — only to see the investigations peter out without claiming top officials, such as Attorney General Eric Holder, who was under scrutiny in “Fast and Furious.” Now Democrats are pointing to his habit of claiming conspiracy, as well as a series of intemperate remarks Issa has made about the IRS case, in an attempt to deflect attention from the scandal by discrediting the inquisitor.

(VIDEO: Holder Lashes Out at Rep. Issa, Calling Conduct ‘Shameful‘)

“As late as last week the administration’s still trying to say there’s a few rogue agents in Cincinnati, when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from Washington,” Issa said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union. During that interview, Issa, 59, also criticized White House Press Secretary Jay Carney for blaming the scandal on a “local rogue,” and called Carney a “paid liar.”

Issa’s accusations were accompanied by excerpts the committee released from interviews conducted with two unidentified workers at the IRS office in Cincinnati. In one excerpt, a worker scoffs at the notion that employees in the bureaucratic backwater could be solely responsible for the politically motivated targeting. “It’s impossible,” the employee says. “As an agent we are controlled by many, many people.  We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen.”

“One of the things we’ve heard,” says a spokesperson in Issa’s office of the committee’s interviews with IRS employees in Cincinnati, “is how frustrated and thrown under the bus they feel.”

It’s hard to assess the accuracy of Issa’s claims. The Oversight committee hasn’t released the full transcripts of those interviews, or identified the employees. Nor has Issa explained why he believes the conspiracy to target conservative political outfits applying for 501(c)(4) status stretches deep into the agency’s Washington headquarters. The Treasury Inspector General found that IRS offices in DC did contribute to inappropriate delays when some conservative groups applied for tax-exempt status. But it found no political influence from the White House, or anyone else, in those actions.

“Strong words from Mr Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler,” tweeted former White House senior adviser David Plouffe. The remark was a reference to Issa’s checkered past. The seven-term Congressman became one of the wealthiest members of the legislative branch when he entered in 2001, thanks to a company he founded that manufactured popular car alarms. But as a young adult, Issa ran into some trouble with the law, according to a profile by the New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza. He was indicted for stealing a car (the case was dismissed), accused by a business associate of burning down a factory to collect the insurance money (he was never charged) and pleaded guilty to possessing an unregistered firearm after a traffic stop. (Issa was given probation for the offense.)

(MORE: The Real IRS Scandal)

Carney, for his part, declined to get into a ‘back and forth” with Issa. But Steny Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, told reporters Tuesday that the congressman’s ad hominem attack and unsubstantiated allegations that the scandal was orchestrated from Washington “indicates a real political bias on his part.”  Hoyer added: “It’s hard to trust somebody who makes assertions without evidence.”

Senate Republicans also think Issa is getting ahead of himself. “I don’t believe this was something thought up in the Cincinnati office, but I have no evidence that goes to the White House,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday on Fox News. “You can go too far,” he added. “Jay Carney is not the issue here.” Graham’s partner in crime, Arizona Senator John McCain, said Republicans should “let the facts come out” rather than lob insults.

Publicly, House Republican leaders have stood with Issa’s inquisition. “Chairman Issa is providing tough, effective and appropriate oversight in the face of White House obstruction,” says Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor ducked questions Tuesday about Issa’s handling of the matter. But Issa’s offices says the message from colleagues has been clear: “Keep doing what you’re doing,” says an aide to Issa, who says Republican leaders “share the chairman’s view in terms of his concern about the issues. They want him to be thorough.”

Issa’s office says the committee is in the early stages of a long term investigation. On Sunday, Issa said the committee still had 18 more interviews to conduct with IRS officials. “We’re not making predictions about where this is going to lead us,” says an aide. But despite his bluster, Issa has so far produced no evidence tying anyone outside the independent agency to the scandal.

Privately, some Republicans fret that Issa’s overzealousness could blur the lines between the committee’s legitimate oversight role and partisan witch-hunting. And even Democrats wonder why Issa won’t let the investigation run its course. “This isn’t good for us, but it’s not as bad as he’s making it out to be either,” says one longtime Democratic operative. But like Issa, Democrats probably don’t know yet where the probe will lead. And their scramble to target Issa suggests they’re searching for their own scapegoat in case it’s nowhere good.

MORE: New IRS Scandal Echoes a Long History of Political Harassment

Correction appended, June 5: 

The original text of this story said that the “alleged perpetrators” of the Fast and Furious and Solyndra matters were “cleared by independent investigators.” A Department of Justice Inspector General’s report into Fast and Furious found fault with and held accountable several state and federal officials, though not Holder or other top Obama Administration targets. 

1032 comments
semusdunlop
semusdunlop

There's no way the White House is not involved in this.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

Our ONLY convicted attorney-general was Nixon's first, John Mitchell!

  Did Issa say ONE word against his legacy?

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

Ohhhhh...now, I get it!  Since all these scandals are putting a crimp on Obama's agenda to spend the US into oblivion, it's got to be Issa's fault!  After NINE MONTHS, NOBODY has been held accountable for the deaths of our Ambassador to Syria--and three other Americans, the IRS has been targeting enemies of Obama, the Attorney General allowed 3,000 guns to end up in Mexican drug lords' hands and...the list is almost endless...and it's all the Republicans' fault!


Instead of embracing the coming out of a professional ballplayer, all the Republicans can do is harp on silly and inconsequential missteps by the president and his handlers.  Thanks, Time, for putting all of this into the proper perspective.

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

OBAMA ......IS THE KEY ......GET RID OF THE HEAD.......AND ALL THE BODIES WILL FOLLOW.......THE IRS......EPA........AND OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES USED TO TYRANNIZE THE CITIZENS......

WHO IS GOING TO SAVE US FROM OBAMA?????

valentine, comedian....lol

RichardSRussell
RichardSRussell

Well, look. The IRS scandal truly IS a scandal. The real question Issa's committee should be INVESTIGATING is who authorized this abuse of authority. But it sounds like Issa's already arrived at his conclusion and is now desperately searching for evidence to support it. That's not the way investigations are supposed to work, not least because it means that, in the effort to pin the blame on your favorite scapegoat, you let the real perp walk away.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

Our ONLY convicted attorney-general was Nixon's first, John Mitchell!

  Our ONLY VP, to plea bargain, was Nixon's first, Spiro Agnew!

  Our ONLY president, to receive a pardon, was Nixon!

  Remember John Mitchell's threat to do bodily harm to Katie Graham?

  Was that supposed to have a chilling effect?

  Is there a difference between Ken Starr and the legacy of Archibald Cox?

  Didn't the Republicans use to insist upon a smoking gun?

  You remember.

  The party of smoke?

MrKenRob
MrKenRob

@handout has posted his list of so called "Obama lies" I went to every single website if anyone cares to you will find the very referenced sites DISPROVES the title. Specifically SNOPES, ABC, CHICAGO SUN TIMES, NPR, HOLOCAUST, and ALL the others that aren't just blogs and edited snippets. Just some info and an alert; DO NOT BE FOOLED BY INFO DUMPERS. Read what they dump because it usually makes your point for you

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

4500 dead Americans and Trillions wasted in Iraq based on lies. And yet its the IRS checking whether or not Tax Exempt status of Political Shell organizations is real that GOP wants us to be angry about.



SarahWall
SarahWall

You know, maybe Mr Issa isn't a convicted car thief or arsonist. But maybe if we say it enough, people will start to believe it. Seems as though FIXX, excuse me, FOX "news" seems to think that is the way to indict those they don't agree with. You know, say things enough and soon enough their devout followers(and they are legion)will soon spout the FOX lies.  Karl Rove almost wrote the bible on such foolishness. 

ErikKobal
ErikKobal

keep it up dems.  lose even more credibility.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

I'm just curious since when do to people in charge of congressional hearings allowed to be arsonists, insurance swindlers and car thieves?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

He was too busy committing insurance fraud and car theft.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@Juan'tAjob 

bush had 50+ attacks similar to Benghazi and there were like three investigation.


Benghazi was a drop in the ocean compared to the blood Bush 'allowed' to happen.


Republicans should shut up already about an attack that was one minor attack compared to the 50+ in Bush's years.... yall look damn dumb and in the end this stuff WILL ALWAYS HAPPEN  - I forgive Bush and Obama because THIS IS THE JOB RISK

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

@Juan'tAjob ,

  Thanks to Eric Holder, and the FBI, fiends like Viktor Bout are behind bars!

  He was a Russian arms dealer.

  He tried to sell arms to Colombian outlaws.

  They wanted to murder American pilots.

  The FBI nabbed him.

  Vladimir Putin has already demanded his release.

  On the other hand, Oliver North is a spokesman for the NRA.

  You remember.

  The guy that sold arms to Ahminejad's mentor, Ayatollah Khomeni?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Juan'tAjob Actually it seems you don't if you did you wouldn't be spouting lies and looking like a fool.

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@CliffordSpencer There you go, again, Cliff, justifying this president's actions by pointing to previous president's failures.  This president, while publicly "shocked" by the actions of the IRS, has done NOTHING to forward the investigation.  The subject of this article is, how the presidents handlers are DEFLECTING attention from the ILLEGAL targeting of conservative and religious organizations by the IRS.

You are doing the same thing...dredging up previous administrations missteps as justification for Obama and his handlers.  Did you see that the Unemployment rate went UP?  Is that Nixon's fault?  Reagan's?  Bush's?  Surely, you'll be able to point the blame to SOMEBODY other than Obama...won't you?

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@mantisdragon91 Ya just gotta love the new democrat mantra:  Ignore what's happening under the CURRENT administration by blaming it's predecessors for everything wrong, now.  Fast and Furious was Bush's fault, even though his administration REJECTED the proposal, REQUIRING Holder to put it back on the fast track.  When it was uncovered, the messenger (Issa) was castigated.  The anti-gun lobby was SILENT...well, at least as far as supplying cartel members with guns went.

The IRS CLEARLY TARGETED Conservative groups while the Barack H Obama Foundation got it's 501 C-4 status in 30 days.  All Rep. McDermott could do was BLAME the groups FILING for status...oh, yes, it was THEIR fault for applying, NOT the IRS, for targeting!  Nothing speaks to "transparency" like the IRS pleading the 5th, huh?

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@SarahWall So, it's all FOX News' fault, right Sarah?  When was the last time you WATCHED Fox News?  Which programs on FOX News are your favorites?  


These are rhetorical questions, as you've probably NEVER watched it...right?  Like so many other name-callers, you probably accept the words of YOUR preferred "news sources," such as MSNBC and the kos...right?  

Here's some ''news'' for you, Sarah:  Just because FOX News is the ONLY counterpoint to EACH AND EVERY OTHER network news outlet, that doesn't make it, somehow, "wrong."  

FOX gives John Stossell, a libertarian, his own show, where he extolls legalization of drugs, among other not-so-Republican philosophies.  Other liberal contributors include:  Juan Williams, Mara Liason, Kirsten Powers, Sally Kohn, Lanny Davis, James Carville and Geraldo Rivera.

Contrast that with ABC, NBC and CBS, among others, which IGNORED the Kermit Gosnell murder trial (he was an abortionist found guilty of murdering viable fetuses) because...well YOU decide why it was ignored, OK?  The FOX/AP fiasco was only covered because it also involved the AP.  Does calling a well-respected national news reporter (James Rosen) a ''co-conspirator'' and ''flight risk'' for gathering information not upset your progressive sensibilities?


While FOX surely makes no bones about it's editorial leanings, it gives both sides of the issues a fair hearing.  Maybe you know more about it's programming than for what I'm giving you credit...if that's the case, you'd be the exception that makes the rule...

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ErikKobal According to the polls its not the dems that are losing credibility but the party of no economic solutions.

freedom1970
freedom1970

@mantisdragon91  Read the article you DEMWIT . Grand theft auto charge was dismissed and there was never an arson charge . He was only accused by a business associate of arson you DEMWIT .  I guess Obama gets a pass for being an admitted  Drug Addict / Coke Head , Alcoholic  . 

TMA1
TMA1

@mantisdragon91 but he was hanging with BO when BO was a drug smuggling male prostitute.

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@CliffordSpencer  Never too long enough ago to dredge up Ollie, is it, Cliff?  Let's compare Viktor Bout to Eric Holder, shall we?  Bout SOLD arms to Colombian factions, SOME of which weren't on our side.

Holder, facilitated the movement of THOUSANDS of weapons to Mexican cartels, NONE of which are on our side.  In fact, some of those weapons were DIRECTLY CONNECTED to the deaths of American Border Patrol agents.


Contrary to North's testimony, in which he sought to explain and justify his actions, Holder "doesn't know" anything, until it's PROVEN he does, then STILL claims ignorance of any wrongdoing.  Holder's ignorance/incompetence wouldn't be so galling were he not the ATTORNEY GENERAL of the UNITED STATES!  "America's top lawman" is, in reality, Obama's top yes-man.  


Last thing, Cliff.  Previous administrations' transgressions don't justify the un-Constitutional actions of the IRS, nor can the targeting of FOX News by the Justice Department be rationalized.  Supplying weapons to drug cartels--ON OUR BORDER--has been swept under a rug and, NINE MONTHS LATER, the American people STILL have NO IDEA what happened in Benghazi...and survivors of the attack STILL haven't been identified, much-less interviewed.


This "most transparent administration" was supposed to be different.  All you can do to defend it is point to previous administrations.  Two wrongs do NOT make it right...

TMA1
TMA1

@CliffordSpencer @Juan'tAjob so a group of liars has told you ....and Obama Care will lower costs, it will be the most open admin., and the IRS can be trusted......ahahahahahahahha.....RIIIIIGHT

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@mantisdragon91...lies?  No, not me...Obama and his handlers tell enough for us ALL!!  I would be interested in knowing WHAT, in my post, you think is a lie, though...

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Juan'tAjob @mantisdragon91 Nope junior they didn't But hey  whatever makes you sleep better supporting ap party that invaded a country that never attacked us and that got thousands of Americans killed.

NewPol
NewPol

Yea, and you brain dead welfare lovers are so mo into helping the economy!  Dems took over both the House and Senate in Jan 2007 when the Unemployment rate was 4.7% nationwide.  Dems continued to control both the House and Senate until Jan 2011 when the Unemployment rate was up to almost 10%.  Obama became pres with a 7.8% rate and today it went up to 7.6% from 7.5%.  Oh yea, your party of 21st Century Welfare pushing politicians are doing just dandy on "no economic solutions"   You hire an inexperienced Marxist for Pres and you wonder why he sucks so bad after 5 years??  We don't wonder....his voters are ignorant drones!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@freedom1970 @mantisdragon91 In 1982 he had his brother sell his Mercedes to a car dealership in California for $16,000 at the same time he was reporting it as stolen in Ohio. When the fraud came to light he bought the car back from the dealership for $17,000 to avoid further investigation.

Regarding the Arson case he had more than tripled the insurance on the property days before the fire. Insurance investigators found that all valuables were removed from the property prior to the fire and there were traces of lighter fluid throughout the building.


So what exactly should a thinking person believe happened?

ReneDemonteverde
ReneDemonteverde

@mantisdragon91 @TMA1 Now that you are so good in providing police and insurance records, how about providing us with Body Odor academic records that he had sealed. If only to show us the brilliance of his mind.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@TMA1 @mantisdragon91 And there is the difference. I provide information based on actual police and insurance records, while you pull right wing conspiracy idiocy out of your arse.

Juan'tAjob
Juan'tAjob

@mantisdragon91You've LOTS of diversionary drivel and not one relevant counterpoint.  Jay Carney classified Benghazi as being "old news," in a press conference a couple of weeks ago, in dismissing questions regarding the political coverup of the Americans who were attacked by known terrorists.  If Benghazi is old news, Iraq is ancient history!

Question:  Did Holder authorize ''walking'' over 3,000 firearms to Mexico?  The answer has nothing to do with the war in Iraq.

Question:  Did the IRS hold up applications for 501 C-3 and C-4 status to Conservative organizations, based on ideology?  Again, the answer has NOTHING to do with Iraq.

There were many democrat leaders who signed on to the Iraq war, just as there were PLENTY of conservatives who were outspoken opponents of the action.  Regardless of where we stand/stood on that issue (personally, I was against it), life moves on.

Right NOW, the issue of which leaks are OK ("Obama killing UBL'') and which leaks aren't (anything that could embarrass Obama), is a BIG DEAL.  Eric Holder has his teat in a ringer, having lied to Congress about going after Rosen.  He SHOULD have had his feet held to the fire for Fast and Furious--where were the gun control advocates as this was being investigated?

Right NOW, the dominoes are starting to fall in the IRS investigation.  IF--I said, IF--the White House is implicated...are you going to cite the war in Iraq as justification?!?

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

@NewPol ,

  Donald Trumps' firms declared bankruptcy 4 times! 

  Newt Gingrich's think tank already filed.

  Mitt Romney used to own CLEAR CHANNELS.

  It employed "shock jock" Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh.

  CLEAR CHANNELS went under.

  Ever hear of corporate welfare for Republicans?

  Bush, not Obama, golfed with his comrade, Vladimir Putin!

  At one time, Cheney's HALLIBURTON had contracts with Shell.

   Now, Russia does!

  Follow that money trail?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@NewPol Thanks in one easy post you have demonstrated both the ignorance and abrasiveness that is killing the GOP credibility for most mainstream voters.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@NewPol You mean as opposed to Fox News? Idiot you do realize that all this info can still be found in police and insurance files.

NewPol
NewPol

What a laugh...using the New Yorker as a fact checker!  Maybe for Socialist and Communists it works!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@freedom1970 @mantisdragon91 I know exactly whats going on. The IRS was doing far worse in 2004 when the were threatening Churches, the NAACP and Greenpeace and no one from the GOP said a peep. But hey I'm sure you were okay with that since it wasn't Obama.

freedom1970
freedom1970

@mantisdragon91 @freedom1970 Wow , Are you even paying attention . You are a complete moron . Do you really think he doesn't  know anything about what been going on . You Kool-Aid drinking idiot . They are still investigating , and what they have found so far doesn't look good .Not to mention the IRS has already admitted to wrong doing . OBAMA doesn't take any responsibility for anything . Its hard to believe , he believes he is running the country when he says doesn't t know what's going on .

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@freedom1970 @mantisdragon91 Is that the same thinking person that is claiming all the scandals above none of which have been proven either?  Face it Freedom you and a thinking person don't seem to have much in common.

freedom1970
freedom1970

@mantisdragon91 @freedom1970  A thinking person would assume innocents until proven guilty, that is the system we live in . Unfortunately, with every day that passes with this OBAMA administration the system is changing . He did promise change didn't he!  Instead of condemning Issa for something he may or may not have done . You should be glad he is trying to shed light on Benghazi, IRS, the AP , Joe Rosen and now  collecting information on Verizon customers .Even if the are not suspected of anything . My friend open your eyes this is about us the American people and about our liberties .I guess you are ok with all of what the OBAMA  administration has be doing behind our backs .

DaleCorrice
DaleCorrice

@mantisdragon91 @freedom1970 

Nice comment - accusing and NO PROOF as usual. Let's see I know nothing, I do nothing and under OBUMMER the country is declining fast. Let's spend another billion flying him to his golf game!