Steve Benen alerts me today to Darrell Issa’s latest bombshell: carefully edited excerpts from interviews with two IRS employees who say that the tea party targeting orders came from “Washington.” In a press release from Issa, in which he oddly quotes his appearance on CNN instead of just quoting himself directly, Issa says, “As late as last week, the administration was still trying to say the [IRS targeting scandal] was from a few rogue agents in Cincinnati, when in fact the indication is that they were directly being ordered from Washington.”
Right. In case you’re waiting on the edge of your seat for more from these whistleblowers, it’s worth noting that when they say “Washington,” they’re not talking about the White House. They’re talking about attorneys from the IRS’s EO division in Washington DC. EO stands for “Exempt Organizations,” so these are exactly the attorneys you’d expect to handle questions about tax exempt organizations. What’s more, the interaction between the line workers in Cincinnati and the EO attorneys in Washington DC is already well known, because it was covered in the Inspector General’s report that was released a couple of weeks ago.
In other words, there’s almost certainly nothing new here. The EO attorneys tried to figure out what the IRS regs covering 501(c)4 groups meant, and had a hard time of it because the regs are hard to make sense of. In the end, the whole thing turned into a major league botch, but we already knew that. All you have to do is read the IG report if you want to know about how things played out between the Determinations Unit in Cincinnati and the EO lawyers in DC.
I’m sure we’ll hear more from Issa shortly. Just keep all this background in mind the next time you see him flailing away on TV.