While the Obama administration has been shaken by the revelation that an IRS office in Cincinnati singled out tea party-affiliated groups for special scrutiny on their tax-exempt status applications, the IRS manager responsible is a self-described conservative Republican, according to statements he made to congressional investigators.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat and staunch Obama supporter, revealed that the IRS manager said he and an underling set aside “tea party” and “patriot” groups because the organizations appeared to pose a precedent that could affect future IRS filings.
Cummings, who is the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is overseeing the probe, said on CNN’s State of the Union that the manager’s comments and political affiliation prove that politics and the White House had nothing to do with the scandal.
“He is a conservative Republican working for the IRS. I think this interview and these statements go a long way toward showing that the White House was not involved in this,” Cummings said. “Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved. And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on.”
Cummings said he will release a full transcript of the committee’s interviews with IRS officials this week if the panel’s Republican chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, does not.
Despite Cummings’ revelation, Issa has released his own excerpts of IRS employee interviews and has said they suggest that the extra scrutiny given to tea party groups originated in Washington and had political motivations.
Issa vowed to press ahead with the investigation and said the IRS manager’s comments “did not provide anything enlightening or contradict other witness accounts.”
As a result of the revelations, a firestorm of attack has been directed at President Obama, leading him to fire the acting IRS commissioner. But the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration issued his own report last month finding no evidence of involvement beyond IRS officials.