Frustrated Issa threatens IRS director with prison
Threatens to take stronger measures to get cooperation.
Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has sent a strongly worded letter to the IRS, suggesting he will seek new measures to obtain cooperation from the organization.
If "the IRS continues to hinder the committee's investigation in any manner, the committee will be forced to consider use of compulsory process," Issa said in his letter to Werfel.
He also reminded Werfel that ""Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime." The letter was co-signed by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
The crime is punishable by a term of up to five years in prison.
According to Issa, the IRS has shown evidence of systematically trying to obstruct the progress of the investigation into whether or not the agency broke the law by harassing Tea Party organizations who were seeking tax exempt status with the IRS.
"Despite your promise to cooperate fully with congressional investigations, the actions of the IRS under your leadership have made clear to the committee that the agency has no intention of complying completely or promptly with the committee's oversight efforts," Issa wrote.
"The systematic manner in which the IRS has attempted to delay, frustrate, impede, and obstruct the committee's investigation raises serious concerns about your commitment to full and unfettered congressional oversight," the letter said.
It has already been demonstrated that the IRS singled out conservative groups applying for non-profit status for exceptional scrutiny, asking members what books they were reading, and even for the text of speeches delivered by guest speakers at group functions.
Despite Issa's letter, the IRS claims it is doing everything it can to cooperate. According to Michelle Eldridge, a spokeswoman for the IRS, the agency is scrambling to meet all requests for data from the committee.
The IRS says Issa has asked for millions of documents and they would like the number to be refined according to dates and times in question. Despite an initial request for some 64 million documents, the IRS says they expect to hand over less than 400,000 after the committee refines its request.
Eldridge says that 70 lawyers are working full time to fulfill the existing requests. The agency employs 1,500 lawyers in the chief counsel's office.
However, Issa says they're redacting more information than they should and moving far more slowly than he expects.
Issa has also hinted that he may investigate allegations of IRS harassment of existing Tea Party organizations too. Republicans have promised to continue pressing the issue this week and during the upcoming August congressional recess.
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