Monday, June 03, 2013

Issa already straining to keep IRS ‘scandal’ alive

Kevin Drum: Steve Benen alerts me today to Darrell Issa’s latest bombshell: carefully edited excerpts from interviews with two IRS employees who say that the tea party targeting orders came from “Washington.” In a press release from Issa, in which he oddly quotes his appearance on CNN instead of just quoting himself directly, Issa says, “As late as last week, the administration was still trying to say the [IRS targeting scandal] was from a few rogue agents in Cincinnati, when in fact the indication is that they were directly being ordered from Washington.”

Right. In case you’re waiting on the edge of your seat for more from these whistleblowers, it’s worth noting that when they say “Washington,” they’re not talking about the White House. They’re talking about attorneys from the IRS’s EO division in Washington DC. EO stands for “Exempt Organizations,” so these are exactly the attorneys you’d expect to handle questions about tax exempt organizations. What’s more, the interaction between the line workers in Cincinnati and the EO attorneys in Washington DC is already well known, because it was covered in the Inspector General’s report that was released a couple of weeks ago.
This is Issa performing CPR to keep the story alive. Without a direct White House connection, this is just the story of an agency hamhandedly doing the sort of thing it’s supposed to be doing (Tea Party groups are non-political charities? Really? Shouldn’t someone look into that?), under the direction of a Bush appointee — i.e., as “Obama scandals” go, it isn’t one.

So Issa releases info dishonestly edited to suggest there is a White House connection, because he is, as David Plouffe put it recently, “loose ethically.” There’s nothing new here, but Issa wants you to think there’s something new — and wants the media to report something new — because he’s a partisan hack and a shameless liar.

And what does this say about the state of the controversy? Well, you don’t give CPR to a healthy patient. Benghazi’s pretty much dead, “Fast and Furious” is not only dead, but forgotten, and now the Tea Party’s IRS Victim Card is slipping away too. This is all evaporating much too quickly. It’s supposed to last until Nov. 2014, at least.

Pretty soon, people like Darrell Issa are going to have to govern, rather than play politics by abusing their committees for smear jobs. And that’s something that they’re terrified of facing.

[photo by Gage Skidmore]

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