Treasury Secretary Jack Lew refused to say on national TV this morning whether the politically appointed counsel of the IRS, William Wilkins, has been asked about his participation in the federal agency's scandal:
"Chris, I am leaving the investigation to the proper people who do investigations," said Lew. "I don't think it's appropriate for me to do the investigation."
As witnesses have testified to the House Ways and Means Committee, the chief counsel for the Internal Revenue Service may have played a role in the IRS’s practice of reserving special scrutiny for Tea Party and other conservative political groups. William Wilkins, chief counsel and one of two political appointees at the IRS, was “closely involved in some of the applications” for tax-exempt status, according to a press release from the committee.
Career IRS employees have testified on Capitol Hill that the federal agency's chief counsel played a part in the scandal of targeting conseratives, the House Ways and Means Committee announced today in a press release. As a result, House Ways and Means Committee chair Dave Camp, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chair Darrell Issa, Ways and Means Subcommittee chair Charles Boustany Jr, and Oversight Subcommittee chair Jim Jordan have sent a letter to the IRS requesting "new documents related to IRS employee discussions about the 2010 election, the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, and the tax-exempt status of Tea Party groups," a press release announces.
The House of Representatives will take up a bill that would stop the Department of the Treasury, including the Internal Revenue Services, from implementing and enforcing the provisions of Obamacare. The bill, authored by Georgia Republican Tom Price and co-sponsored by 114 other House members, is just two pages long and claims its purpose is to "prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury from enforcing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010."
The IRS commissioner said today at a Capitol Hill hearing that the IRS's internal review doesn't contradict the inspector general's report that says progressives weren't targeted by the federal agency:
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell will say today that the IRS is "thumbing its nose at the American people." He'll make those remarks this morning at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
Politics can seem frustratingly complex. It can be a challenge to grasp that the targeting of conservatives by Internal Revenue Service officials over the last few years constitutes a genuine scandal, while the lawful activities of employees of the National Security Agency do not. It can be a strain to distinguish the illegitimate and arbitrary use of government power to harass American citizens exercising their constitutional rights from the legitimate use of government power to protect the nation from our enemies abroad.
With so many scandals swirling around the Obama administration, it is hard to identify which is the most politically damaging for the president. But there’s no doubt which one should trouble constitutionalists the most. The Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups raises core questions about the nature of our government that the public has ignored for generations. It’s high time to revisit the issue of how the people can maintain control over those who are supposed to do their business.