Democrats on a House committee probing improper targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service hit back at today’s 21-12 party-line vote that former IRS official Lois Lerner should be held in contempt of Congress.
In twin releases, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) –ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform — faulted Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) for not releasing transcripts of interviews with IRS employees and for having “botched the contempt proceedings by disregarding key due process protections.”
Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile, told reporters that the full House would act on the committee’s resolution on Lerner, who has twice refused to testify about her role in holding up applications of conservative advocacy groups for tax-exempt status.
“They have not been forthcoming,” the Ohio Republican said of Lerner and other Obama administration officials. “They owe the American people the truth. … And the administration refuses to tell them the truth.”
The Democrats’ counterattack today followed a statement yesterday from Cummings that accused Issa of “attempts to re-create our committee in Joe McCarthy’s image.”
Cummings’s latest broadsides escalate his public feud with Issa. The Maryland Democrat has rejected allegations that his office collaborated with the IRS in looking to a conservative group called True the Vote.
Email unearthed in the probe indicates that Cummings’ staff asked the IRS to provide publicly available information on the group. The agency replied by sending True the Vote’s IRS 990 forms.
In a letter to Cummings, Issa and five subcommittee chairmen challenged his staff’s involvement and said: “From the very outset, you have worked to obstruct the investigation.”
Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote, said the IRS sought information such as “intellectual property rights associated with True the Vote’s voter registration software,” “a copy of ‘any training materials used’,” and “information about any for-profit organizations associated with True the Vote.”
Cummings, she said, sent her group letters “three times . . . demanding much of the same information that the IRS had requested. Hours after sending letters, he would appear on cable news and publicly defame me and my organization.”
In a 2013 email flagged by the committee, Lerner responds to a comment about offices in Chicago and Washington for Organizing for America, a group promoting President Obama’s policies, by writing: “Oh – maybe I can get the DC office job!”
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.