When it became known that the IRS targeted conservative groups prior to the 2012 federal election, separating them out for special negative treatment, there was an uproar. An investigation was promised. Unfortunately, it was another of the fox investigating whether the fox had broken into the chicken coop.
That investigation seems to have gone very quiet. So quiet that it seems to have disappeared from view. Perhaps it is still ongoing, or it could have been completed. We don’t know. What we do know is that the Obama administration is now refusing to release more than 500 documents related to the Internal Revenue Service investigation, according to The Hill on Monday.
Freedom of Information Act Being Thwarted
The Hill has actually been seeking access to documents by way of the Freedom of Information Act. In those FOI requests, The Hill asked for correspondence between the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) dating back to 2013.
The FOI request shines a light on Lois Lerner once more. She is suspected of being the ringleader of the scandal. The Hill has specifically asked for emails from Learner.
TIGTA refuses to comment on the request, but The Hill added, “TIGTA opted not to release any of the 512 documents covered by the request, citing various exemptions in the law. The Hill recently appealed the FOIA decision, but TIGTA denied the appeal.”
Oversight and Government Reform Committee Still Waiting
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, a senior member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told The Hill that his committee was also waiting for evidence from the investigation. “It’s par for the course,” he said. “We’ve had a difficult time getting information from the IRS and the Department of Justice.” The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has held multiple hearings on the IRS scandal.
The White House may have thought they could stonewall long enough that everyone would forget about it, but with the new Republican majorities in both Houses comes a focus on discovering what happened. Investigations into the IRS are not going way, they are intensifying. The IRS and TIGTA have both been criticized for failing to inform Congress about the targeting in advance of the 2012 presidential election. The stonewalling of formal requests continues.
This is not the first time TIGTA has been criticized. They have come under fire in the past from outside groups for refusing to be forthcoming with other FOIA requests. In fact, Cause of Action, a nonprofit group, sued TIGTA after announcing in December that the agency refused to turn over more than 2,000 documents.
Nevertheless, the refusal to abide by requests from the committee continues. The Judicial Watch organization has also sued the Obama administration because the DOJ has not handed over documents. The group announced last December that the Department of Justice has withheld 832 documents related to meetings between the IRS and the department’s Public Integrity Section and Election Crimes Division.
What is the Department of Justice Doing?
The Hill noted that Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that the department will soon release a report about the agency’s targeting that will include “some final recommendations.” That remains to be seen since the DOJ has been basically invisible throughout this scandal, whis is in its third year.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch noted last week that the IRS had in fact turned over 86,000 pages of new documents to his panel. The quantity outweighs the quality of the documents selected to be sent. As Hatch put it, “These documents were given to us without notice or explanation roughly twenty months after we made our initial document request on the targeting,” according to The Hill.
It appears that the House has dug in its heels. Now that the Republicans controlling both Houses, the IRS scandal will not be slipping away into the night as the White House wants it to.