4-11-14 – Congressional Democrat Linked to IRS Scandal

by Shayne Spence

It appears there may have been a little more than a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS targeting of conservative groups.  The scandal has been the subject of the House Government Oversight Committee for many months, after it became clear that conservative political action groups were being targeted while similar progressive organizations were not.  They lay the blame at the feet of Lois Lerner, who was the head of the IRS tax-exempt division at the time, and recently voted to hold her in contempt of Congress.

Now it appears that the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is involved with the scandal at the highest level as well.  Recently released emails show that Cummings’ staff had requested information about True the Vote, one of the targeted groups, just five days before the IRS began their inquiry in October 2012.  In January 2013 Cummings’ staff requested more information, eliciting personal attention from Lois Lerner herself, who wrote to her deputy Holly Paz, “Did we find anything?”

In a February 2014 hearing, Cummings denied allegations by True the Vote attorney Cleta Mitchell that his staff had been involved with IRS targeting of the group.  Mitchell said, “We want to get to the bottom of how these coincidences happened, and we’re going to try to figure out…if there was any staff of this committee that might have been involved with putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies.”

Cummings responded, “What she just said is absolutely incorrect and not true.”  The recently released emails from his staff seem to say otherwise.

Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and other members of the committee sent Cummings a memo calling out the lies.  “Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members of staff – indicates otherwise.”

At least now we know why Cummings has been so eager to put a stop to the hearings.

Shayne Spence is the Outreach and Development Coordinator for the Ethan Allen Institute.

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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