See for yourself. Issa’s committee was told last year that the report would be ready in September, two months before the election. Eight months later, the bomb finally dropped. Why? Did the IG initially underestimate the volume of malfeasance and how long it would take to dig it up? Or are there other, more cynical reasons?
Even if the report wasn’t ready, Issa claims the IG had a statutory obligation to keep Congress updated on its findings as they were made. He didn’t. Why not?
Issa is referring to part of the Inspector General Act that requires watchdogs to report serious problems to Congress through the head of an agency within seven days. It’s known as the “seven-day rule” — but it’s often used sparingly.
The Oversight Committee asked the inspector general about conservative group targeting a number of times, and Issa read some of the emails in the hearing Wednesday.
George also raised concerns that incremental information provided to lawmakers would ultimately leak to the public.
“That is not fair to the people we are investigating,” George said.
Issa responded that the White House is the source of plenty of leaks as well.
Issa himself said a few days ago that he knew last year “approximately” what would be in the report, but it’s one thing to think you know based on a leak and another for the IG to confirm it with an update. Here’s the real question: 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? (“We would be happy to provide a status update to the Subcommittee staff and provide a copy of our interim and final reports on the matter when they are issued.”) More from Issa:
‘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.’
We already knew that, more or less, from the results of the IG report itself. Check the timeline on page 13. The media starts picking up reports of tea-party complaints in February 2012, and soon thereafter the director of the exempt organizations puts a halt to IRS demands for more intrusive info from conservative groups. Three months later, in May, they hold a “workshop” providing guidance on tax-exempt groups to its analysts and approv more neutral criteria for scrutinizing applications. That’s probably why Issa’s committee had an inkling at the time — because the IRS itself already knew it had done wrong and was moving to undo it to some extent. And yet no one, including the IG, felt moved to confirm for the committee until this month that yes, “mistakes were made” and it was now safe to tell the public that.
But the election’s over, so it’s safe now.