The new GOP majority in the U.S. Senate is turning up the heat on its investigation of allegations the Internal Revenue Service shared private taxpayer information with President Obama, demanding Obama turn over communications he and his staff had with the agency.
The Washington Times reported it obtained a copy of a letter signed by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and the 13 other Republicans on the panel.
Addressed to Obama, the letter asks for his communications with the IRS since 2010 for their investigation into whether the agency has been engaging in illegal distribution of private taxpayer information. Republicans have accused the Obama administration of using the IRS as a political weapon since discovering the agency obstructed the applications for tax-exempt status of conservative organizations critical of Obama’s policies.
The letter said: “We have an obligation to conduct oversight of the federal government’s administration of our tax laws. As part of this oversight, we are seeking to determine the degree to and manner in which the Internal Revenue Service shares taxpayer information with the executive office of the president.”
IRS documents filed by the National Organization for Marriage, for example, were released to a citizen who asked for them, and they ended up in the hands of a homosexual activist who posted the confidential information online.
A judge ruled the IRS simply made a mistake, but the agency agreed to pay the group $50,000.
The documents requested by the Senate panel were also requested by the interest group Cause of Action, which has gone to court to try to compel the IRS inspector general to turn them over, the Times reported. The inspector general says it can’t turn over most of the 2,500 pages of records from its investigation because it would violate the privacy of taxpayers.
Texas-based True the Vote and 42 other groups have filed a lawsuit claiming the IRS targeted them based on their beliefs and politics.
Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, said the “notion that the IRS can target Americans for years because of their political beliefs is reprehensible.”
The IRS exacerbated the scandal by repeatedly telling disbelieving congressional investigators that it couldn’t provide relevant emails because of hard-drive failures.
U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton also ordered the agency to find out what happened to the hard drive after IRS Commissioner John Koskinen claimed a computer malfunction had caused the loss of two years of emails belonging to IRS executive Lois Lerner, whose tax-exempt division improperly targeted conservative groups.
Lerner claimed her emails were lost when her hard drive crashed July 13, 2011. She said the crash caused her to lose all her emails sent to recipients outside the IRS from mid-2009 to mid-2011.
David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States for the National Archives and Records Administration, testified the federal agency failed to follow the law in handling Lerner’s emails, raising even more suspicion about their content.
A key House leader addressing the issue, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told IRS officials, at a minimum, “You did not tell the whole truth.
The committee accused the IRS of sending the FBI a database containing more than a million pages of confidential taxpayer information.
Officials later said the emails that had been “destroyed” were found, but they were unsorted and details were unavailable.
Robert Wood commented in Forbes: “First, there was no targeting by the IRS. Then there was, but only by those rogue IRS employees down in Cincinnati. … Then, top IRS official Lois Lerner refused to testify. IRS Commissioner Miller seemed defiant too and was sacked. Then, there was a year-long congressional investigation before the IRS finally admitted the 2009 through 2011 Lois Lerner’s emails ‘disappeared.’ Then, the backups … were recycled. Then, the new IRS commissioner said the IRS needs a bigger tech budget.”
Wood said American taxpayers, as well as thousands of dedicated IRS employees, deserve an explanation.
“The vast bulk of them are doing their best and helping not hurting the system. Their position is undermined by the awful bumbling and worse the IRS scandal … has revealed.”
Obama, meanwhile, insisted in an interview there’s “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS.
GOP Senate tells Obama to cough up emails
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:58:10 GMT