July 19, 2013
IRS SCANDAL UPDATE, ATTACK-THE-WHISTLEBLOWER EDITION: Watchdog decries ‘unprecedented’ treatment by Dems at IRS hearing.
The government watchdog who issued the report that found the IRS was targeting conservative groups was turned into a punching bag by Democrats in the second half of a tense hearing Thursday, leading Inspector General J. Russell George to chide lawmakers for their attacks on his office.
“This is unprecedented,” he said of his treatment before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at the end of the hearing. The first half of the hearing was devoted to testimony from IRS officials who claimed higher-ups in Washington, D.C., were involved in applying additional scrutiny to Tea Party and other groups.
But the second half featured George and his associates, and ended up becoming a forum for Democratic lawmakers to accuse him of effectively ignoring potential signs that liberal groups may have been targeted as well. They pointed in part to IRS documents that suggest “progressive” groups may have been singled out.
George, though, said he didn’t see one of those packets until last week. He said he was “disturbed” it took so long for the IRS to produce the documents.
Hey, it took a while to make them look convincing. . . . And it’s obviously racist of the Democrats to go after a black man this way.
Earlier Thursday, a veteran IRS worker testified that officials from a Washington office led by a political appointee intervened in the screening of Tea Party applications, saying publicly for the first time the IRS chief counsel’s office was involved in the controversial program.
Carter Hull, a recently retired tax law specialist, had earlier come under scrutiny after an employee in the Cincinnati IRS office told congressional investigators that he had been micro-managing her review of Tea Party groups’ applications for tax-exempt status. But Hull revealed that he, too, was taking orders from up the chain of command.
Hull specifically said he was told to forward documents to an adviser for embattled IRS official Lois Lerner — who first revealed the targeting of Tea Party groups and has since refused to answer lawmakers’ questions. But Hull said he was then told to send documents to the Office of Chief Counsel for their review — which is led by political appointee William Wilkins.