Jeff Zeleny asks good questions of Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), who will chair the hearings in the Oversight subcommittee of Ways and Means into the IRS scandal. Not coincidentally, Boustany was the person who asked then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman explicitly in March 2012 whether IRS agents were targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny and harassment. Boustany now wants answers to how Shulman and the IRS misled Congress, how far up the issue goes, and establish how laws got broken. Boustany tells Zeleny that there is “a culture of rot” that needs a big clean-up.
ABC’s video seems to have some issues, so for now here it is:
Boustany characterizes the new Inspector General’s report, which reveals that the IRS began targeting these conservative political groups as early as 2010, as “very disturbing.”
“At the very least it’s ineffective management,” Boustany says. “We know some egregious abuses occurred at the IRS and whether it’s ineffective management, negligence, or deliberate political egregious violations of First Amendment rights for political purposes, we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
Boustany started investigating possible targeting of conservative groups by the IRS two years ago after he began hearing complaints from constituents and groups who “felt they were being targeted,” but says the IRS has been “evasive and misleading from the start.”
“We want to get to the bottom of who made the decision, who at the top whether it’s at the IRS or higher up,” Boustany says. “Could it have been someone at Treasury, or even perhaps at the White House, that made this decision to go forward. This is a flagrant abuse of power.”
And yet another conservative group is pointing out an abusive audit, which goes beyond the scope of the IG’s report on politicization within the IRS. Leadership Institute, which helps train Tea Party organizers, offers a timeline of the abuse that corresponds interestingly with that IG report:
At the same time the IRS was bullying tea party and conservative groups, it was auditing the Leadership Institute.
On June 1, 2011, LI received notice of an audit of its tax return and activities in 2008.
What followed was a more than year-long investigation of more than 23,430 pages of records and requests for items like:
— a list of 2008 interns and their future employers;
— sample emails between employers and LI regarding ConservativeJobs.com; and
— how LI’s more than 300 trainings are advertised.
Ultimately, the IRS accepted the Institute’s tax return as filed.
“The IRS’ indefensible behavior is worse than we first thought, as it targeted both new and existing conservative groups in politically motivated attacks,” said Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute. “Fortunately my Leadership Institute had the resources to stand up to the government’s bullying and intimidation. Other groups, including grassroots and tea party groups we’ve helped train, did not. Defending ourselves from the harassing audit cost my organization more than $50,000 in legal fees alone.”
Culture of rot inside the IRS, culture of intimidation within the Obama administration.