Reminder: The IRS Scandal Goes High up the Chain of Command
In the last few weeks, the narrative among Democratic politicians and many media sources has been that the IRS scandal has no legs. A bit of news from last week blows that theory out of the water:
Last week, while much of the nation’s attention was turned toward the Zimmerman verdict and the antics of the racial grievance industry, the IRS scandal got far more intense. According to top IRS lawyer Carter Hull, the Chief Counsel’s office of the IRS, headed by Obama appointee William Wilkins, was instrumental in the agency’s campaign of harassment and discrimination against conservative and certain pro-Israel groups. In interviews, Hull informed congressional investigators that his superiors told him that Wilkins’ office would need to be involved in additional reviews of previously screened applications because of “potential political activity.” Thus, the Democrat-led effort to keep this scandal confined to a few “rogue” agents in Cincinnati has gone down in flames.
In the meantime, Democrats are shooting for the “distraction” method of brushing over what happened:
Democrats on the committee holding the hearing spent most of their time asking the witnesses whether they had any knowledge of President Obama’s personal involvement in the extra scrutiny of tea-party applications. This was an absurd exercise in getting the witnesses to say what everyone in the room would have stipulated from the beginning: Only a fool would believe Obama would have picked up the phone, or written an email, or made any other effort to contact middle managers in the IRS to tell them what to do. Democrats are simply hoping Americans are foolish enough to believe the absence of such contact means there’s absolutely nothing left to investigate in this case.
They’re even ignoring their favorite line of attack – the “dog whistle” approach:
Obama spent months after the Supreme Court’s January 2010 Citizens United decision bashing right-wing advocacy groups — a good timeline of his remarks can be found here — and by the final weeks before that year’s midterm elections the president was calling these groups engaing in “unsupervised spending” both “a problem for our democracy” and a “threat to our democracy.” The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Democrat Max Baucus, wrote a letter demanding the IRS investigate conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. All this happened in the months when, according to evidence already gathered in the House’s IRS investigation, we know the agency was well into the process of setting aside tea-party applications and scrutinizing them. And, let’s not forget, this was also during the time tea-party groups were complaining about the extra scrutiny and long delays, while IRS officials told Congress they knew about nothing of the sort.
And yet, it would seem Obama, Baucus and other Democrats got exactly what they wanted — but no one started to connect the dots until the IRS’s ham-fisted revelation of the targeting. Isn’t that exactly what the left calls a “dog whistle” in its frequent complains about the right? Do liberals ever care in those instances whether the whistler also placed a phone call or sent an email? Nope.
Peggy Noonan has an excellent column summarizing the new revelations, but it all boils down to this: No, President Obama was not calling IRS agents to tell them to harass Tea Party groups. However, his leadership, and the leadership of Democrats in Congress, did lead to IRS agents seeing the writing on the wall and reacting with increased investigation of conservative groups.
Once again, this scandal goes well beyond a small group of employees in Cincinnati, and last week just proved it yet again.