Obama administration stonewalls FOIA request on IRS targeting scandal
posted at 10:01 am on February 10, 2015 by Ed Morrissey
It has been almost two years since the exposure of the IRS efforts to target conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, and their donors. In the meantime, the Obama administration has done exactly nothing to hold IRS personnel accountable for their actions. The Department of Justice and the Treasury’s Inspector General (TIGTA) claims to be conducting investigations into the matter, but have not talked with the victims of the targeting scheme, or much of anything else, either.
Well, that’s not entirely true. They have stonewalled the media and its attempts to look into the scandal, including The Hill:
The Hill asked for 2013 emails and other correspondence between the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The request specifically sought emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner and Treasury officials, including Secretary Jack Lew, while the inspector general was working on its explosive May 2013 report that the IRS used “inappropriate criteria” to review the political activities of tax-exempt groups.
TIGTA opted not to release any of the 512 documents covered by the request, citing various exemptions in the law. The Hill recently appealed the FOIA decision, but TIGTA denied the appeal. TIGTA also declined to comment for this article.
In its written response to The Hill, TIGTA cited FOIA exemptions ranging from interagency communication to personal privacy. It also claimed it cannot release relevant documents “when interference with the law enforcement proceedings can be reasonably expected.”
Yet, congressional Republicans say there is no evidence of any prosecution in the works, and media outlets have indicated that the Department of Justice and the FBI have already determined that no charges will be filed.
There isn’t much to add to this, except to note that the stall continues. If there is an investigation going on, it’s so secret as to surprise even the victims for whom the probe would provide justice. It’s managed to avoid any notice on Capitol Hill, where Republicans have been looking for it almost ever since the exposure of the targeting in May 2013 — after years of denials from IRS officials that it was taking place at all. Give The Hill credit for filing the FOIA request, though, because most other media outlets have taken their cues from Barack Obama and gave up on what they consider a “phony scandal.”
The IRS wants to warn consumers this tax season about scammers targeting taxpayers:
Maybe Congress should warn Treasury and Justice about scammers pretending to be investigators rather than pawns in a stalling game for the White House. Now that the GOP has control of the Senate, they can haul a few officials up to Capitol Hill and demand those same documents that The Hill couldn’t pry loose, and see what this investigation has taken 20 months doing, exactly.