Any lingering doubts about whether the IRS scandal will reach the White House were dispelled when Obama flack David Plouffe – a “political guru” who wouldn’t order a ham sandwich without instructions from Barack Obama – launched a smear campaign against House Oversight chair Darrell Issa (R-CA). This is the sort of thing Team Obama does when it knows it’s in very deep trouble.
“Strong words from Mr Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler,” tweeted David Plouffe, the political guru (and unofficial adviser) for President Obama, referring to the chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
“And loose ethically today,” Plouffe ended his tweet, linking to a story about Issa answering questions on CNN’s ???State of the Union??? with Candy Crowley about the controversy over IRS staffers targeting conservative groups for scrutiny, in which Issa referred to White House press secretary Jay Carney as a “paid liar.”
Asked for a response to Plouffe’s tweet, Issa’s spokesman Frederick Hill told CNN, “Looks like the Chairman hit a nerve today. Hopefully President Obama follows Plouffe on Twitter and may finally see some information from a senior advisor about what’s going on at the IRS.”
Hill’s wisecrack refers to Obama’s penchant for claiming he only finds out what his Administration is doing by reading the same newspaper reports as the rest of us. Just wait until the President picks up today’s paper and reads about how the IRS blew $50 million in taxpayer cash on lavish employee conferences. He’ll be absolutely livid!
CNN provides some background on the 30- and 40-year-old “controversies” dredged up by the same political operation that claimed the eight-month-old Benghazi outrage was old news because it “happened a long time ago”:
In 1972, then-19-year-old Issa too was arrested under suspicion of stealing a car, but Issa claims it was a case of mistaken identity and the charges were ultimately dropped.
In 1982, the office and factory of two companies Issa had purchased, Quantum Enterprises and Steal Stopper International, caught on fire. The insurance company’s investigation found “suspicious burn patterns” and company officials noted that in the month before the fire Issa had increased his insurance from $100,000 to $462,000. As the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza noted, the “Ohio state fire marshal never determined the cause of the fire and no one was ever charged with a crime”; Issa and the insurance company settled out of court.
Called out for this odious and risible effort to smear the House Oversight chairman with ancient stories in which no charges were pressed, Plouffe fell back to a couple of nuisance ethics complaints – the stuff left-wing groups perpetually file against prominent Republicans for precisely this contingency, so Democrat operatives can claim Republican X is operating under an ethical cloud. You can tell there’s nothing to them by the way CNN doesn’t even bother to explain what the complaints were about:
There have been at least three ethics complaints filed against Issa, all from left-leaning groups. Complains filed in and of themselves don’t necessarily mean anything, of course. House Ethics Committee or Office of Congressional Ethics judgments are much more important, and as of now there have been none against Issa.
Issa’s office says neither the committee nor OCE “has ever contacted the Congressman’s office seeking any response or additional information.” Issa spokesman Hill called them all “nuisance complaints.”
None of which has anything to do with the still-expanding IRS scandal, which is most certainly not a witch hunt conjured up by Darrell Issa. It’s OK for the Internal Revenue Service to abuse its power and launch a voter-suppression crusade against Barack Obama’s political adversaries because Darrell Issa was briefly accused of stealing a car when he was 19 years old?
This is an investigation into massive government corruption, not Rep. Issa’s re-election campaign. And even if it was Issa’s re-election campaign… remember how Team Obama reacted when the President’s opponents brought up what he was doing thirty years ago? Or, for that matter, five years ago?
Here’s what Issa said to blow Team Obama’s fuses, during an interview with CNN host and Obama 2012 real-time debate coach Candy Crowley:
“Their paid liar, their spokesperson, pictured behind, he’s still making up things about what happens in calling this local rogue,” Issa said, motioning towards a photograph of Carney on the screen behind Crowley. “The reason the (IRS official) Lois Lerner tried to take the Fifth is not because there is a rogue in Cincinnati, it’s because this is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters and we’re getting to proving it.”
These claims were based, Issa said, on interviews with IRS officials conducted by his committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, though as of now no definitive account has been made public establishing that the IRS officials engaged in the targeting of conservative groups, in the Cincinnati office, were doing so at the direction of officials in Washington, D.C.
“The president’s spokesperson is saying whatever is convenient at the time and the story changes,” Issa told Crowley. “What we have is people coming in to transcribed interviews. They’re saying under penalty of crimes that certain things are true. We have subpoenaed documents that would support that, that they say, e-mails that went back and forth. The administration is so far not providing those documents. As we get those documents, as we will get Fast and Furious documents eventually and so on, we will learn the whole truth.”
Issa is absolutely correct, and there’s no reason to dig into charges that were dropped against him back when “The Godfather” first hit theaters to assassinate his character, because everything he said in that exchange is well-documented, as CNN knows:
The Internal Revenue Service has told House GOP investigators they have identified 88 IRS employees who may have documents relevant to the congressional investigation into targeting of conservative groups, according to a congressional source familiar with the investigation.
The IRS asked these employees to preserve all the “responsive documents” on their computers, and it has been in the process of collecting it all to comply with congressional requests for information. The IRS missed its May 21st deadline to turn over documents to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The same source said the IRS argues it missed its deadline because of the scope of documents it is collecting.
The request for documents was a bipartisan one, but Republicans are privately preparing to seize on the fact that if nearly 90 IRS employees may have been somehow involved in this targeting, it is evidence that the controversy extends well beyond the mistakes by a few low level employees.
Oh, so “Republicans” are “privately preparing to seize” on that fact? I’d say anyone with a room-temperature IQ should be seizing on that fact, as well as the mounting evidence this army of “low-level rogues” was taking orders from the IRS high command. As the targeted conservative groups prepare legal challenges, we’ve heard IRS agents speak of a “special task force out of Washington.” And Issa’s committee has released a few choice bits of testimony from employees of the notorious Cincinnati office in which the grunts insist they were just following orders:
Q: So what do you think about this, that allegation has been made, I think as you have seen in lots of press reports, that there were two rogue agents in Cincinnati that are sort of responsible for all of the issues that we have been talking about today. What do you think about those allegations?
A: It’s impossible. As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen.
Q: And you’ve heard, I’m sure, news reports about individuals here in Washington saying this is a problem that was originated in and contained in the Cincinnati office, and that it was the Cincinnati office that was at fault. What is your reaction to those types of stories?
A: Well, it’s hard to answer the question because in my mind I still hear people saying we were low???level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C. So, take it for what it is. They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.
Q: So is it your perspective that ultimately the responsible parties for the decisions that were reported by the IG are not in the Cincinnati office?
A: I don’t know how to answer that question. I mean, from an agent standpoint, we didn’t do anything wrong. We followed directions based on other people telling us what to do.
Q: And you ultimately followed directions from Washington; is that correct?
A: If direction had come down from Washington, yes.
Q: But with respect to the particular scrutiny that was given to Tea Party applications, those directions emanated from Washington; is that right?
A: I believe so.
A senior Cincinnati employee actually complained about all the “micromanagement” he was getting from the Washington office to coordinate this “inappropriate” campaign against conservative groups, leading him to apply for another job:
Q: Earlier I believe you informed us that the primary reason for applying for another job in July  was because of the micromanagement from [Washington, DC, IRS Attorney], is that correct?
A: Right. It was the whole Tea Party. It was the whole picture. I mean, it was the micromanagement. The fact that the subject area was extremely sensitive and it was something that I didn’t want to be associated with.
Q: Why didn’t you want to be associated with it?
A: For what happened now. I mean, rogue agent? Even though I was taking all my direction from EO Technical [Washington, D.C], I didn’t want my name in the paper for being this rogue agent for a project I had no control over.
Q: Did you think there was something inappropriate about what was happening in 2010?
A: Yes. The inappropriateness was not processing these applications fairly and timely.
So, yes, the Administration is lying when it portrays all this as the work of two or three loose cannons at one remote office. And it’s telling that Obama’s spokespeople feel the need to lie about it, or attack the character of top investigators. If a special prosecutor is appointed, just wait until you see what they do to him. Younger readers who want a preview should Google the name “Ken Starr.”
But as long as Obama’s mouthpieces want to start digging around in the ancient past to raise questions about character, can we talk about how the wife of former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman – who made an unprecedented number of visits to the White House while this IRS abuse was taking place – is a left-wing loon with ties to Obama’s political machine? How about the adventures of key IRS figure Lois Lerner when she worked for the Federal Election Commission, and launched a conveniently-timed jihad against Democrat Senator Dick Durbin’s opponent in the 1996 Illinois Senate race… the very same Senator Durbin who joined several of his Democrat colleagues in urging the IRS to go after Tea Party groups? That all happened a lot more recently than Darrell Issa’s dropped auto theft charges, and it’s far more relevant. By all means, Obama supporters, let’s crack open the news archives and start connecting some dots.
Update: A little perspective from Jim Geraghty of National Review:
For perspective, here’s what Plouffe’s most famous client was doing when the charge against Issa was dropped: pic.twitter.com/mLJMGNy5im
??? jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) June 3, 2013