Dem. Rep. Jim McDermott: Conservative groups deserved IRS abuse, harassment

Dem. Rep. Jim McDermott: Conservative groups deserved IRS abuse, harassment

On Tuesday, Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., told leaders of conservative groups appearing before the House Ways and Means Committee their groups should have been targeted by the IRS because of their involvement in politics.

McDermott started his comments by saying what the IRS did was wrong.  He went on, however, to claim the groups were asking taxpayers to subsidize their work.

“The mistake here was that the staff organizing the organizations used the names of the organizations rather than the work they do,” McDermott said, “and asked improper questions to figure that out.”

“It’s clearly wrong,” he said. “It was inept, stupid, and a whole lot of other things.”

He lashed out at the six conservative witnesses appearing before the committee, saying “each of your groups are highly political” and deserved the extra scrutiny they received from the IRS.

McDermott also called the hearings a “circus,” characterizing them as “political theater,” claiming Republicans are looking for a conspiracy that doesn’t exist.

He also implied that the scrutiny came about because of overworked IRS employees, but a table in the IG report showed the number of requests for tax exempt status actually went down from 2009 to 2010.

“Let’s not forget this happened under an IRS commissioner appointed by George Bush and was investigated by a Republican inspector general,” he said.  While Douglas Shulman was appointed by Bush, he supported Barack Obama, and his wife was very active in the Obama campaign.

Without providing any specifics, McDermott claimed that liberal groups were targeted during the Bush years and called the hearings a waste of time.

“I haven’t heard a single word here about what questions you think we ought to be able to ask you about your tax-exempt request,” he added. “Anything else, like the circus that’s happening in the Oversight Committee or here, is simply political theater.”

“I’m going to deviate from my original question in response to what I just heard,” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said to laughter and applause.

“So, you’re to blame I guess is the message here,” he said, slamming McDermott’s statement.

Video of McDermott’s statement can be seen here.

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Joe Newby

Joe Newby

Joe Newby is an IT professional. He has written for Conservative Firing Line, Examiner, NewsBusters, and Spokane Faith and Values.

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