The headline over at Townhall sort of says it all:
IRS Hearings: Republicans Ask Questions, Democrats Attack Issa
Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Oversight Committee is turning up more and more well-nigh irrefutable evidence that the IRS targeting of tea party groups was directed from higher ups in Washington.
Tax lawyer Carter Hull, who worked in Washington for the IRS for 48 years before retiring, and Elizabeth Hofacre, who worked in the Cincinnati office for 14 years, were both called to testify today. It was Hofacre’s office that Fifth taking IRS employee Lois Lerner tried to blame for the IRS targeting, a decision that may prove to have been unwise in the extreme.
Based on what Hull reportedly had already revealed to investigators, the Wall Street Journal observes in an editorial:
According to Washington IRS tax law specialist Carter Hull, his supervisor Ronald Shoemaker and Manager of Exempt Organizations Technical Michael Seto, tea party applications were intentionally singled out for extra layers of review and put through an unusual process.
Mr. Hull told House investigators that normally his judgment about applications would have been enough to approve or deny their tax-exempt status. Instead of sending those applications through the normal channel, however, conservative applications were sent through Ms. Lerner's office for review, and also directed to the IRS chief counsel. That process was highly unusual and created a vetting system in which applications were interminably delayed.
According to Mr. Hull, starting in April 2010, he was told by a supervisor to give extra attention to some tea party applications as a trial run for how the agency might handle such cases going forward. As part of that process, he was instructed to send the applications through Ms. Lerner's office and the office of IRS Chief Counsel William Wilkins for additional scrutiny.
Once he delivered them, however, the process stalled and the applications mouldered until August 2011, when Mr. Hull met with Mr. Wilkins's staff and Ms. Lerner's senior adviser to discuss the applications. Mr. Hull was told the applications had been on the shelf too long and needed updating. "I was taken aback," Mr. Hull said of the request, which added even more time to the already delayed applications. "I hadn't had the case for a while. I couldn't ask if I didn't have the case."
Wilkins, by the way, is the lawyer who represented the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s United Church of Christ pro bono when the IRS looked into the church’s tax-exempt status after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama delivered a speech there. Take this for what it's worth…
Monica Crowley said the other day—and I agree—that the IRS scandal is the “most dangerous scandal in U.S. history.” As Crowley, a former Nixon aide admitted, the IRS has been abused before—but never on this scale and never against ordinary citizens.
The people who were being targeted were everyday people who were dedicated to a concept of limited government. They were political amateurs. But somebody obviously thought—and rightly so—that the tea party had the ability to make a difference.
They had to be stopped—and, so, for a while, they were.
No wonder the Democrats would rather attack Mr. Issa.