"It felt almost as good as stealing cars from grandma." — Rep. Darrell Issa, probably
On Monday, we
that the IRS didn't single out tea party groups after all. Instead, they were looking for political groups, including not just tea party groups, but progressive groups as well. They may have used a flawed method for flagging the groups, but the IRS's intent was clear: to identify political groups that were not legally entitled to receive the tax-exempt benefit they sought to receive.
That pretty much brought the IRS "scandal" to a screeching halt. In the hours following the revelation, Darrell Issa's Twitter feed suddenly started spamming tweets about Benghazi. "Change the subject, quickly!" he seemed to be saying.
But there's still a question to be answered. If the IRS was targeting political groups from across the ideological spectrum, where did the original narrative about tea party targeting come from? The answer makes Darrell Issa and his fellow House Republicans look even worse than they did on Monday:
The Treasury inspector general (IG) whose report helped drive the IRS targeting controversy says it limited its examination to conservative groups because of a request from House Republicans.
A spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, said they were asked by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”
Obviously, if Issa wanted a comprehensive investigation, he should have asked for a review of all politically oriented scrutiny. Instead, he asked for exclusive focus on tea party and conservative groups. Under the most charitable interpretation of this, it never occurred to Darrell Issa that anyone other than the tea party groups could have been targeted. If that's true, it suggests he just doesn't care about whether the IRS "targets" anyone other than his political allies.
But I think the most likely explanation here is that Issa was simply trying to cook up a scandal, even though it did nothing to address the genuine problems with the way campaign finance and tax laws are written. He probably figured that in the best case scenario, he'd be able to get away with his fraud. And in the worst case scenario, he'd get a slap on the wrist from a few reporters, but endless approval from his political supporters. It's exactly the kind of thing you'd expect from Mr. Grand Theft Auto.
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