IRS Manager Behind Tea Party Screening is a "Conservative Republican"

| Mon Jun. 10, 2013 9:53 AM EDT

Last week, Darrell Issa released a few carefully chosen excerpts from interviews with IRS managers in Cincinnati which tried to imply that "Washington"—by which he meant the White House—was behind the targeting of tea party groups. Today, Democrats are fighting back with their own set of carefully chosen excerpts from the interviews. For example, this one from the manager of the IRS Screening Group in Cincinnati:

He states that he has worked at the IRS for 21 years as a civil servant and supervised a team of several Screening Agents in that office. When asked by Republican Committee staff about his political affiliation, he answered that he is a "conservative Republican."

....Q: In your opinion, was the decision to screen and centralize the review of Tea Party cases the targeting of the President's political enemies?

A: I do not believe that the screening of these cases had anything to do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have further development.

This manager goes on to tell committee staff that the decision to elevate the first tea party case was his; that it wasn't motivated by political concerns in any way; and that the use of specific search terms ("tea party," "patriot," etc.) came from a line worker in his group.

Needless to say, this doesn't put an end to things. Cincinnati workers, after all, have a vested interest in denying political motivation, since they could lose their jobs over that. And it's still possible that the attorneys in Washington who reviewed all this stuff had political motivations. Still, it's looking less likely all the time. As happens so often, this is almost certainly a case of incompetence, not malice. More here from the Washington Post.