Two Democrats File Complaint Against Watchdog for Handling of IRS Probe

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va. Alex Brandon/AP File Photo

In another sign the flap over alleged political targeting by the Internal Revenue Service will not fade soon, two House Democrats have sent a 22-page complaint to the inspectors general council charging bias by the Treasury Department’s top auditor for tax issues.

Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., both on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Thursday complained of auditing work that is “incomplete and, at times, outright misleading” by J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004.

The two Democrats said that have “serious concerns over the troubling activities of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration …, including noncompliance with respect to conducting a performance audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards issued by the Comptroller General of the United States and head of the Government Accountability Office.”

After reviewing a series of exchanges at hearings at which TIGTA’s work was debated largely along partisan lines, they called for a thorough review by the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, led by Beth Cobert, the deputy director of management and the Office of Management and Budget.

House Republicans for their part this week held two hearings -- one featuring newly installed Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen -- at which they continued to blast the tax agency for allegedly covering up political calculations in how the Cincinnati-based unit of its Exempt Organizations Division processed applications for tax-exempt status by nonprofits.

No fewer than six investigations of the IRS controversy are ongoing, and Republicans have been upset by FBI leaks suggesting that no criminal charges are likely.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., told the commissioner his agency had failed to turn over six specific types of documents. “I want to be perfectly clear: This committee will fight any and all efforts to restrict the rights of groups to organize, speak out and educate the public, just as unions are allowed to do so,” Camps said. “We will get to the bottom of this, and I expect the IRS to produce -- quickly -- the outstanding documents the committee has requested."

Cummings on Friday also joined with Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., in writing to Koskinen asking him to detail how much the IRS probes have cost the agency in staff time and resources.

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