By Bernie Becker - 07/16/13 04:38 PM EDT
Cummings’s memo comes just days after he pressed for Russell George, the inspector general who detailed the targeting of conservative groups, to testify at Thursday’s hearing, saying that the watchdog had kept key information from the committee.
In all, Cummings says that none of the now 15 IRS staffers the committee has now talked to, six of whom either have identified themselves as or have voted for Republicans, said they knew of any way in which politics played a role in the vetting of tax-exempt applications.
Instead, the memo says, IRS staffers were grappling with how to deal with how to process tax-exempt applications — a tricky area of tax law — without always having the most guidance to go on.
For instance, Cummings cited an email from a top investigator in George’s office, which he says that the inspector general for tax administration withheld, that said there was no indication that the applications pulled for more scrutiny were chosen for political reasons.
Democrats have also noted that groups that aren’t conservative have come forward in recent weeks to say that they received the sort of invasive questioning outlined in George’s audit. IRS watch lists also snagged liberal groups, as Democrats point out.
But Republicans say that all the evidence now points to groups on the right being more systematically targeted.