House report claims Obama influenced IRS to target conservative groups
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A House committee says that President Obama's "political rhetoric" was critical in the IRS' decision to target Tea Party, pro-family, and other groups that had politically conservative leanings.
In a 77-page report released on Monday, the House Oversight Committee said, "President Obama's bully pulpit led to the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative tax-exempt applicants." The report also places blame on "congressional Democrats," "Senior White House officials," "and other left-wing political figures and commentators."
The targeting, which was made public in May 2013 but went on from 2010 through 2012, began after the Citizens United Supreme Court case allowed for more increased political spending by corporations and unions. Democrats decried the high court’s decision, saying it allowed "dark money" into politics.
President Obama began regularly attacking the decision in public statements in January 2010.
According to Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin, the president's influence is no surprise. "It's difficult to conceive how President Obama didn't influence events leading to the targeting of conservatives by the IRS. Whether there is a direct link to the President or anyone else at the White House remains to be seen."
The Oversight Committee's report comes just days after the IRS said it lost e-mails from the former IRS official who oversaw the targeting, Lois Lerner. And on Tuesday, it was reported that the e-mails of six other IRS officials cannot be found by the tax agency. Martin told LifeSiteNews that those e-mails perhaps could have shown a connection to the White House.
Lerner and an advisor also sent more than one million pages of information on non-profits to the FBI, which may have violated federal law. The White House has dismissed GOP criticism of the lost e-mails as "far-fetched skepticism."
Martin continued her call for a special investigator of the scandal, saying, "It's impossible for Obama's political appointees to conduct a credible investigation and it's time for an independent counsel to be appointed so Americans can learn the truth about what their government is doing to intimidate citizens."
"It's difficult to conceive how President Obama didn't influence events leading to the targeting of conservatives by the IRS."
The lead investigator into the scandal is an Obama campaign donor, which conservatives have said is problematic.
Targets of the IRS include Coalition for Life of Iowa, which was asked about the contents of its prayers, and Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County, Texas. Voices for Life was also asked about the contents of its prayers, among other things. Both groups, as well as four others, are being represented by the Thomas More Society.
According to Sally Wagenmaker, special counsel for the Thomas More Society, "the Obama administration's apparent refusal to recognize [the] serious problem" of IRS discrimination "which directly infringes on constitutional free speech rights, threatens our country's bedrock First Amendment values."
The Oversight Committee has subpoenaed IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to testify on Monday, June 23 about the lost e-mails. Koskinen is also testifying to the House Ways & Means Committee on June 24 about the scandal.