Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, on Sunday rejected suggestions from Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that orders for IRS workers to target conservative groups came directly from superiors in the Washington, D.C. office.
“So far, no witnesses who have appeared before the Committee have identified any IRS official in Washington DC who directed employees in Cincinnati to use ‘tea party’ or similar terms to screen applicants for extra scrutiny,” said Cummings in a statement. “Chairman Issa’s reckless statements today are inconsistent with the findings of the Inspector General, who spent more than a year conducting his investigation.”
“This is a problem that was coordinated, in all likelihood, right out of Washington headquarters. We have subpoenaed documents that would support that,” Issa added.
Both the House Oversight and Ways and Means panels are interviewing employees from the Cincinnati office, which reviewed groups seeking tax exempt status. The IRS has apologized after disclosing last month that workers used higher scrutiny for conservative groups.
GOP lawmakers are seeking to learn when top officials in the Treasury and White House first learned about the political targeting and what steps were taken to stop it.
Cummings, though, blasted Issa’s comments as unhelpful.
“Rather than lobbing unsubstantiated conclusions on national television for political reasons, we need to work in a bipartisan way to follow the facts where they lead and ensure that the IG’s recommendations are fully implemented,” said Cummings.
“We must have a sincere effort to uncover the truth so that we can restore the public’s trust in the IRS.”