Camp, Issa press White House to cooperate in IRS investigation

Two House chairmen are pressing the White House and the IRS to be more cooperative in the investigation into the agency’s singling out of Tea Party groups.

In a new op-ed, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that the Obama administration had for weeks been trying to close the door on the inquiry into the IRS’s scrutiny of groups seeking tax-exempt status.

“The administration’s own partisan anti-tea party rhetoric, its evolving and inconsistent explanations and the IRS’s own unwillingness to fulfill the president’s promises of cooperation with our investigation have fueled skepticism about how dedicated they are to holding the responsible parties accountable,” Camp and Issa wrote in The Washington Post.

The chairmen's op-ed is the GOP’s latest attempt to keep the IRS controversy in the public eye and comes after the House examination into the IRS’s behavior has become increasingly partisan.

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Issa himself raised the stakes last week by subpoenaing IRS documents from the Treasury Department. Camp and Issa, among others, have expressed frustration at what they say is the slow delivery of documents from the IRS.

Before heading out for August recess, House Republicans passed several measures aimed at the IRS last week, including one that would bar the agency from implementing Obama’s healthcare law.

GOP lawmakers are also expected to make the IRS controversy a central part of their messaging in their five weeks back home.

The White House and congressional Democrats have argued in recent weeks that all the investigations into the IRS have found no evidence so far of partisan motivation behind the agency’s treatment of conservative groups.

Obama himself has accused Republicans of trumping up “phony scandals,” while Democratic lawmakers have asserted that groups on the left also received extra scrutiny.

Democrats have also chided Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, Russell George, who first outlined the targeting of standing in the way of the congressional inquiry into how liberal groups were treated.

For his part, Danny Werfel, the interim IRS leader, has rejected Issa’s claim that the agency was intentionally trying to impede the IRS investigation.

In their op-ed, Camp and Issa recount many of their previous charges: that IRS and administration officials, for instance, were too quick to blame staffers in the Cincinnati office that deals with tax-exempt applications.

The two chairmen also say that conservative groups faced far more scrutiny than liberal ones, and suggested that an internal IRS examination requested by Werfel that found no partisan motivations wasn’t credible. Camp and Issa added that the IRS chief counsel's office, headed by one of two political appointees at the agency, involved themselves in vetting Tea Party applications.

The IRS has said that its chief counsel, William Wilkins, played no role in the application process.