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IRS watchdog called back to House committee

July 17, 2013 at 10:29 AM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, July 17 (UPI) -- House Democrats say the U.S. Treasury Department official who investigated the IRS omitted material in the report Republicans used to attack on the White House.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., released a memo Tuesday asserting that -- despite GOP assertions otherwise -- 15 interviews with IRS staffers and thousands of pages of documents did not indicate the agency's targeting of organizations seeking tax-exempt status was politically motivated or that the White House was involved, The Hill reported Wednesday.

Democrats had raised questions about the report issued by J. Russell George, Treasury's inspector general for tax administration, that indicated conservative groups were targeted. Democrats have said IRS "be-on-the-lookout" lists affected liberal groups as well after George's audit in May found groups with the name "Tea Party" and "Patriots" were pulled for extra attention.

A House Democratic aide told The Hill Tuesday Republicans might have thought harder about "launching their completely unsubstantiated campaign to accuse the White House" had George turned over all the information he had.

George and two of his staffers were to appear before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee Thursday after Cummings, the panel's ranking Democrat, requested George be recalled.

"Our ultimate goal is to get the whole truth, not the one-sided, partial information and unsubstantiated accusations we have heard to date," Cummings said in a Tuesday statement released to The Hill.

"I hope the inspector general will explain why he apparently did not know about some of the new documents we obtained that explicitly mention progressive groups and why he did not tell Congress that his top investigator reviewed more than 5,000 emails from IRS employees and found absolutely no political motivation whatsoever," Cummings said in his statement.

Republican lawmakers countered that Democrats are only interested in shutting down the congressional inquiry into the IRS. In an interview with Fox News Tuesday, Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called Cummings the "biggest obstruction" to the investigation.

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