Imagine That: As Obama Denies Its Importance, AP's Ohlemacher Identifies 'The (IRS) Tea Party Scandal'
Well, it's not perfect, but it's a start — and it's certainly a far cry from what President Obama is now willing to admit.
In his report Tuesday on the congressional hearing for John Koskinen, Obama's nominee to be the next IRS Commissioner, Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press wrote that Koskinen "told senators Tuesday he will work to restore public trust in the agency in the wake of the tea party scandal even as the IRS takes on new responsibilities administering the president's health care law." That's a remarkable admission, given that the word "scandal" does not appear in Koskinen's prepared remarks, and of course given that Obama's current opinion of what is better described as the "IRS conservative targeting scandal" is that it isn't one ("they’ve got a list, and suddenly everybody’s outraged"). As nice as it is that he used the "S-word," Ohlemacher's dispatch still contained serious oversights, including his failure to cite the change in Obama's public stance since May and his contention that no one outside the IRS knew of its targeting efforts until then.
Here are a few other relevant paragraphs from Ohlemacher's writeup (bolds are mine):
(Utah Sen. Orrin) Hatch said he expects Koskinen to fully cooperate with congressional investigations into the agency's targeting of tea party groups. Koskinen said he would.
"As far as I'm concerned, the top priority for the next IRS commissioner should be to restore the agency's damaged credibility with the American people and their trust that the actions taken by the IRS are fair and impartial," said Hatch, of Utah.
The IRS came under fire in May when agency officials acknowledged that agents had improperly targeted tea party and other conservative groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. The Justice Department and three congressional committees, including the Finance Committee, launched investigations.
The investigations, which are ongoing, have shown that IRS workers in a Cincinnati office started singling out conservative political groups in the spring of 2010, and continued to do so until 2012. IRS supervisors in Washington oversaw the targeting, but there has been no evidence released so far that anyone outside the IRS knew about the targeting or directed it.
After the targeting became public, Obama demanded the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner and several other top officials were removed from their positions or allowed to retire. The commissioner in charge of the agency when the targeting occurred, Douglas Shulman, left last year when his term expired. Shulman was a Bush appointee.
Contrary to what Ohlemacher claims, "The White House says that its counsel's office was informed of the IRS's targeting of conservative groups in late April (2013)." Additionally, according to CBS News, "Inspector General Russell George said he informed a deputy at the Treasury Department in June of 2012 about the probe into the IRS." Both officials involved are "outside the IRS," Steve. Tell the truth, for heaven's sake.
Still, the IRS targeting of conservative groups is considered a "scandal" at AP, which as far as I can recall has not applied the word to Solyndra, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, or any of the other roughly two dozen candidates. We'll be on the lookout to ensure that the Administration's Press doesn't try to recharacterize it in future reports.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.