Conspiracy theories and paranoid delusions abound – at least in the minds of the GOP. The most recent examples of course are the thoroughly bungled Benghazi and the Planned Parenthood debacles. However, you might recall that about two years ago we had the start of the IRS “scandal”, in which Lois Lerner, then-IRS Chief at that time, was accused of unfairly scrutinizing and targeting Koch-funded Tea Party groups gunning for tax exemption. Yesterday, the Department of Justice said, in a letter to Congress: “substantial evidence of mismanagement, poor judgment and institutional inertia leading to the belief by many tax-exempt applicants that the IRS targeted them based on their political viewpoints. But poor management is not a crime,” provoking yet another round of crocodile tears and wailing about the partisan lack of objectivity in the Department of Justice.
Not unexpectedly, Darrel Issa (R-CA), former chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, whose committee was initially charged with investigating the conspiracy said: “The Justice Department’s decision to close the IRS targeting investigation without a single charge or prosecution is a low point of accountability” – accusing the Department of Justice of “ignoring volumes of evidence in the public record and efforts to obstruct legitimate inquires.” Issa, however, must have a memory problem since his Committee spent 18 months and millions of US taxpayer dollars trying to make a scandal where there was none. Issa’s final report, referred to by the LA Times as “petulant” found that “contrary to his assertions in countless appearances on Fox News, there’s no evidence that the Obama White House directed — or indeed was involved in any way — in the supposed targeting of conservative nonprofit groups for special scrutiny by the IRS. There’s no evidence that ‘tea party’ groups were exclusively targeted, as opposed to tax-exempt ‘social welfare’ organizations from across the political spectrum.” As President Obama said shortly after Issa’s committee issued its findings: “[T]here were some bone-headed decisions . . . out of a local office. . .Not even mass corruption, not even a smidgeon of corruption, I would say.”
Of course, Paul Ryan (R-WI), the heir-apparent to the House speakership said: “Through these investigations we (my emphasis) have uncovered serious and unprecedented actions taken by the most senior IRS official in charge of the non-profit unit, Lois Lerner, to deprive conservative organizations of their constitutional rights.” The question that naturally comes to mind is: Who is we? The obvious answer is the GOP, which has hated the IRS since its inception, but also has been on an endless search, spending millions looking for any kind of “evidence” they could use to cry wolf.
The truly bizarre thing about Republican conspiracy theories is that they are never satisfied with their own conclusions. Take for example the recent, highly discredited Planned Parenthood investigation by Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) – Issa’s replacement on the House Oversight Committee. After his investigation, which included abusively grilling Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, during a five-hour hearing, Chaffetz said: “Did we find any wrongdoing? The answer was no…(but) I think there will continue to be investigations.”
So it should surprise no one when Ryan said: “Despite the DOJ closing its investigation, the Ways and Means Committee will continue to find answers and hold the IRS accountable for its actions.” The thing about these conspiracy investigations by the Republicans is they are coming from the party of small government and fiscal responsibility, which seems not to care about the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars they waste – as long as it is used to incessantly try and discredit Democrats – regardless of their own committee findings.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.