During today’s IRS hearing before the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) took a detour that she may regret. Holmes Norton lauded the IRS officials who were testifying before the committee, which at that point were Carter Hull and Elizabeth Hofacre.
Hull and Hofacre are among the IRS agents who were involved in scrutinizing Tea Party and conservative groups. Both testified that they were acting on orders from their superiors in Washington.
Hofacre worked in the Cincinnati office that IRS Washington official Lois Lerner blamed for the abuse. Lerner broke the story in a conference call in May, while blaming “rogue employees.” Hofacre would have been one of those so-called “rogue employees,” as would Hull. Lerner had blamed them, without directly naming them, for the abuse.
Hofacre testified before the committee that Lerner’s statement hit her and her office like a “nuclear strike.” It was devastating, because the IRS officials in Cincinnati have said all along that they were only doing what their superiors in Washington were telling them to do.
During her inquiry time, after lauding Hull and Hofacre, Norton said, “I don’t see any rogue employees.” She said that she saw before her American civil servants who were just doing their job.
That is pretty much the point that the Tea Party groups and the Republicans on the committee have been making all along. The Cincinnati IRS office had not gone rogue, but was acting under orders from Washington. Hull’s testimony put the blame squarely in the office of the IRS chief counsel, William Wilkins.
Norton, accidentally, agreed with that assessment.