Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson told PJ Media that he has “confidence” the Obama administration would not use a federal agency for “political purposes.”
PJ Media asked Johnson for his reaction to former IRS commissioner Doug Shulman telling Congress that he never discussed the IRS singling out conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status during his 118 visits to the White House in 2010 and 2011.
“I have confidence that this administration would not use a federal agency for political purposes,” he said on Capitol Hill. “We saw that happen in the last administration with the Justice Department and those kinds of abuses I don’t think are engaged in by this particular administration but it’s something that we always have to be on guard against.”
Johnson also said if it is revealed that any IRS employees targeted Tea Party groups on their own without direction from a supervisor, it “could be grounds for termination” but “certainly wouldn’t be grounds for prosecution.”
“I’ve seen nothing that would indicate any criminal activity,” Johnson said.
Attorney General Eric Holder has started a criminal investigation into the situation.
“The FBI is coordinating with the Justice Department to see if any laws were broken in connection with those matters related to the IRS,” Holder said.
“I think the overriding message is that we need to get a handle on what is a (c)(4), a 501(c)(4). We need to make sure that the language of the statute is carefully adhered to and what has happened is that over the years since 1959, according to Lawrence O’Donnell, the IRS has applied a different standard to the interpretation of that statute,” Johnson told PJ Media.
“What we have to do is get back down to where 501(c)(4) nonprofits cannot be engaged in anything other than social welfare issues, should not be involved one iota in electioneering or politicking and so I think that’s the bigger issue.”
Johnson, a member of House Judiciary Committee, said the investigation should “go all the way up to the top” of where the idea behind targeting tea party conservative groups began.
“We need to look at their motives. Perhaps they were not meaning to politically target but they just were doing their job in terms of trying to make sure that the organization that had that name was primarily as opposed to exclusively involved in social welfare issues,” he said.