Next Wrinkle in IRS Flap: Does the IG Secretly Powwow with Republicans?

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, left, accompanied by the committee's Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, left, accompanied by the committee's Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Two key Democrats on the House oversight panel are objecting to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s private meetings with the Republican chairman of their committee.

In the latest in the ongoing and politicized dispute over the Internal Revenue Service’s mishandling of tax-exemption applications, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., sent a Feb. 4 letter to Inspector General J. Russell George objecting “strongly to your office’s repeated partisan meetings with Chairman Darrell Issa and his staff after intentionally excluding Democratic Committee Members and staff -- particularly regarding matters that currently are under active investigation by both your office and this committee.” Cummings is the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Connolly is the top Democrat on the panel’s Government Operations subcommittee.

“According to subsequent accounts from your office, Chairman Issa’s staff forbade you from including any Democratic committee members or staff in that meeting, and your staff accepted these terms without even informing my office,” the two Democrats wrote, singling out a Jan. 27 meeting allegedly discussing IRS implementation of the controversial Affordable Care Act. “Democratic staff became aware of this meeting only after it occurred,” they added.  

The Democrats made three requests of George, the first two asking for the same treatment in private meetings, as is accorded the chairman. The third asks for documents relating to TIGTA spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar’s 2013 statement that Issa specifically had requested investigators probing the IRS Exempt Organization’s Division’s mishandling of nonprofit applications “narrowly focus on tea party organizations.” George later said Kraushaar misspoke.  

Democrats on the House oversight panel as well as on the Ways and Means Committee have argued that the Treasury IG’s May 2013 audit of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division mischaracterized the groups targeted for extra attention as being almost exclusively conservative rather than the mixture of political leanings Democrats say is the case. 

Asked for a response, Issa spokesman Frederick Hill told Government Executive, “As an errand runner for the Obama White House, Ranking Member Cummings often reverts to personal attacks as a distraction when a picture of inappropriate conduct within the administration emerges. His frequent efforts to exclude majority members and staff from communications with White House and other administration officials related to official committee business underscore the hypocrisy of his complaints about an independent government watchdog.” 

TIGTA declined to comment on the matter.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.