Now, scandals are nothing new in Washington. From sex to taxes, it is almost impossible not to find some scandal or other from which to try to smear your political opponents. However, one must always be careful when picking the scandal from which to attack. In particular, one should never attack if either tied directly to the scandal, or worse, knew about it months beforehand.
When the Republicans cried foul over the IRS scrutiny over conservative non-profits, despite liberal groups being similarly targeted, they claimed surprise and outrage over the IRS’s enforcement of the law. The problem is that by claiming surprise, they also undid their own argument. In truth, this was not a surprise to the Republican leadership at all.
On June 28th, 2012, Congressman Darryll Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to the IRS discussing just this very thing, the IRS’s targeting of non-profit groups based on their names. In that letter, sent to the IRS’s Inspector General J. Russel George, Chairman Issa referred to two older news articles, “IRS Accused of ‘Intimidation Campaign’ Against Tea Party Groups” by Susan Jones and released on March 7th, 2012, and “IRS Oversight Reignites Tea Party Ire” by Janie Lorber and released on March 8th, 2012. And when confronted over this issue, the chairman was quick to retreat, admitting to Bloomberg that he knew of, and in fact was embedded with the investigation when it began last year.
Here’s the video:
In other words, the sitting Republican Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was fully aware of, and involved in, this scandal before even the President was given notice. Representative Issa however does brush over that the IRS commissioner was not serving at the leisure of President Obama, but was instead a George Bush appointee, which was carried over with the administration change. Due to the Chairman’s deep involvement in the investigation to this scandal since last year, that it raises a lot of questions.
The senior GOP leadership knew of such an investigation before the November election. They knew that the investigation was involving government intrusion into the Tea Party groups. They could have easily turned this into an election year issue, throwing the president off-guard before the critical debates. Why did they not do this?
The only logical answer is that they did not care about the Tea Party, or its members. They knew that the Tea Party was in their pocket, and would always vote for them in November. They had nowhere else to go. But now, they are facing civil war among their ranks between their crony capitalists and their tea party neo-libertarians. This late attack on the IRS is nothing but an attempt to pander to the tea party, to prevent them from flat out rejecting the party en masse.
And the Tea Party isn’t buying it. Already affiliated groups are rejecting the Republican defense and going on the attack against the GOP establishment. The Republicans only stepped up to defend the Tea Party when it was convenient, and otherwise ignore them entirely.
This scandal is not about the Obama administration, it is about the Republican party hiding this information from those it claims as its base until politically expedient. The Republican party does not care about the Tea Party, and will never give more than lip service to their issues. They only want the Tea Party to vote for them, and otherwise ignore the group.
So one must ask, will the Tea Party wake up and realize that they are being used by the party bosses of the GOP? And if so, what will they do about it?
Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.
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