Why Rep. Elijah Cummings Was So Mad At Rep. Darrell Issa

What Darrell Issa forgot to say during his Fox News Sunday appearance is that the Lois Lerner emails show she told auditors not to make their 501(c) audits "political."

Wednesday morning during another one of Rep. Darrell Issa's hearings on the IRS scandal, ranking Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings exploded at him for his ridiculous witch hunt on the phony scandal --which is mostly what Issa has done with his chairmanship. As Cummings tried to ask a question, Darrel Issa cut off his microphone when he was about to explain what had irked him so much. There was a good reason for his anger, and it's because because Issa refused to share evidence with their committee, but released the information on Fox news Sunday instead.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) exploded at House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) during a hearing about the IRS' inappropriate targeting of organizations seeking tax exempt status, specifically criticizing Issa for releasing relevant evidence to Fox News without also providing it to the committee.

During Issa's recent appearance on Fox News Sunday, the network aired selectively quoted emails from ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, claiming they revealed evidence of "political targeting" by the IRS which may have extended as far as the White House. Media Matters has obtained the emails, which instead show Lerner specifically instructing colleagues to not focus on political activity while scrutinizing tax-exempt organizations.

CUMMINGS: For the past year, the central Republican accusation in this investigation [microphone cut]

ISSA: We're adjourned, close it down.

CUMMINGS: -- that this was political collusion directed by, or on behalf of, the White House. Before our committee received a single document or interviewed one witness, Chairman Issa went on national television and said, and I quote, "This was the targeting of the President's political enemies effectively and lies about it during the election year." End of quote.

CUMMINGS: Chairman, what are you hiding?

CUMMINGS: He continued this theme on Sunday, when he appeared on Fox News to discuss a Republican staff report, claiming that Miss Lerner was quote, at the center of this effort to, quote, target conservative groups. Although he provided a copy of his report to Fox. He refused my request to provide it to the members of the committee. The facts are, he cannot support these claims. We have now interviewed 38 employees, who have all told us the same thing. That the White House did not direct this [inaudible] or even know about it at the time it was occurring. And none of the witnesses have provided any political motivation. The Inspector General, Russell George, told us the same thing. He found no evidence of any White House involvement, or political motivation


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The Fox News segment Rep. Cummings was referring to took place on March 2, where Rep. Issa presented a draft copy of a report written by House Republicans, as well as previously undisclosed emails from Lerner, which Issa claimed revealed "evidence" of political targeting.

What was omitted during the Fox appearance was that the September 2010 emails reveal Lerner counseling her colleagues to be careful not to focus on political activity while examining 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations. Early in that email chain, which was obtained by Media Matters, Lerner wrote: "My object is not to look for political activity--more to see whether self-declared c4s are really acting like c4s. Then we'll move on to c5, c6, c7 - it will fill up the work plan forever!"

Furthermore, the emails do not appear to be about reviewing organizations' applications for tax exempt status, which is the process the IRS is accused of inappropriately conducting. Instead, the emails reference the "self declarer project," which attempts to review groups which self-declare as tax exempt but do not file an actual application, to ensure those groups are still following the rules. (The "Self-Declarers Questionnaire" which tracks these groups is entirely voluntary.)

Basically, Cummings was calling Issa on his bullshit and it's about time -- because our feckless corporate media refuses to do so.

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