Issa on IRS targeting: Case not closed

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. holds up a document as he speaks to IRS official Lois Lerner on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 22, 2013, during the committee's hearing to investigate the extra scrutiny IRS gave to Tea Party and other conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status. AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

House Government Reform and Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., in a letter sent Wednesday, scolded the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., for suggesting that the investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups had run its course.

"Your public comments that 'the case is solved' and that you would 'wrap this case up and move on' stand in stark contrast to the facts," Issa wrote to Cummings. "There is still much that we do not know about how and why certain applications for tax-exempt status were denied, delayed, or otherwise received heightened scrutiny from the IRS."

On Sunday, Cummings released excerpts of testimony provided to the Oversight Committee by an IRS manager at the Cincinnati field office, which was tasked with processing the applications for tax-exempt status from nonprofit groups. That IRS manager said he had "no reason to believe" the White House was involved in the decision to target conservative groups for excess scrutiny, nor did he believe the targeting was motivated by any anti-conservative political bias.

Cummings heralded this testimony during an interview on CNN on Sunday, saying it goes "a long way" toward "showing that the White House was not involved in this."

"Based upon everything I've seen, the case is solved," he said. "And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on, to be frank with you."

That drew a stinging rejoinder from Issa, who said Cummings' desire to close the inquiry into the IRS targeting was "irresponsible, but not surprising."

Issa detailed a number of questions that he says remain unresolved. Among them: Who initially directed the IRS to scrutinize conservative groups? Why were conservative groups' applications beset by processing delays? And why, when asked directly, did IRS officials fail to inform Congress of the problems in the tax-exempt organizations unit?

Cummings has also called on Issa to release the full testimony of IRS officials who have spoken to the committee behind closed doors, saying it would provide a "more complete and fair understanding of the facts."

In his letter, Issa rejected that "reckless" request as well, saying the release of a full transcript could be used by future witnesses and their attorneys to "to prepare answers to likely questions" and to ensure that their own testimony was in accordance with the narrative provided by earlier witnesses.

  • Jake Miller

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