Fox News Sunday’s Chris Wallace Grills Dem. Congressman On IRS Scandal

Fox News Sunday was the only Sunday show that discussed the latest revelations in the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups. As a result, viewers were treated to host Chris Wallace grilling Congressman Sander Levin (D-MI) over why the IRS targeted 100 percent of conservative groups as opposed to only 30 percent of liberal groups.

Appearing on Sunday April 13, Wallace challenged Levin: “30 percent of organizations with progress or progressive in their names were examined as possible political groups. And, therefore, not included -- would not have been considered for tax exempt status. But 100 percent of groups with Tea Party, Patriot or 9/12 in their names were examined. Congressman Levin, 248 conservative groups were examined, but only 29 liberal groups. How do you explain that disparity?” [See video below.]

Congressman Levin attempted to filibuster Wallace’s question and argued “What happens is the chairman gives us the material. We can look at it for one day. Take no notes. And then we go into executive session and we violate the confidentiality of the taxpayer’s records”

For his part, Wallace continued to press his liberal guest for answers and rejected Levin’s spin:

Congressman Levin that is a very interesting answer. But it has nothing to do with my question. I'm asking you a specific question…. How do you explain the fact that 30 percent of progressive groups were examined for their tax exempt status eligibility and 100 percent of conservative groups? How do you explain that?

Levin then tried to blame the Koch brothers and Karl Rove for the IRS scandal but Wallace refused to accept the liberal spin: “You can say that there are more conservative groups. But it doesn't explain why 100 percent of conservative groups were examined and only 30 percent of liberal groups. It doesn't matter if it was 10-3, it was 100 percent of the conservative groups, and 30 percent of the liberal groups. How do you explain that?”

Kudos to Wallace for being the only Sunday host to talk about the IRS scandal this past week. Hopefully ABC, CBS and NBC will follow Wallace’s lead and actually start covering the scandal instead of pretending that no story exists.

See relevant transcript below.


Fox 

Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace

April 13, 2014

9:14 a.m. Eastern

CHRIS WALLACE: It's been almost a year now since we learned the IRS was targeting conservative groups. And this week, Republicans tried to push what's been a halting investigation. The House Oversight Committee voted to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. And the House Ways and Means Committee is asking the Justice Department to consider criminal charges against her. Joining us now, two members of Ways and Means, from Michigan, the top Democrat Sander Levin, and from Louisiana, one of the leading Republicans on the panel, Charles Boustany. When the IRS scandal broke last May, gentlemen, President Obama condemned what the agency officials had reportedly done as outrageous. But now, he says that they have been cleared. Take a look at his change of heart on this scandal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practice that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous. And there's no place for it.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: But no mass corruption?

OBAMA: Not even mass corruption. Not even mass corruption. Not even a smidgeon of corruption.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

WALLACE: Congressman Boustany, given the fact the Justice Department investigation is still on going, how do you explain that change of heart from the president?

REP. CHARLES BOUSTANY (R-LA), WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: Well, it's hard to believe because based on all the documents we've reviewed, over a million -- half a million documents, dozens of interviews, we found compelling evidence that indeed Lois Lerner was involved in criminal activity. It's highly suggestive and it needs to be thoroughly investigated. And that's why we're asking for the criminal investigation.

WALLACE: So, how do you explain the president, again, when this investigation in the Justice Department investigation is still open, how do you explain them saying there's not a smidgeon of corruption?

BOUSTANY: Well, that's the point. Our investigation is still on going in Congress. If the Justice Department is doing an investigation, it's still open. We need to get to the facts. And that's what we tried to do at the Ways and Means Committee. But we know that she violated internal procedure. She violated -- potentially violated federal law by revealing private confidential taxpayer information by putting it on her own personal e-mail address. We know that she tried to or sought to intervene in the appeals process for some of these groups, which is a violation not only of procedure but also federal law. So, there are some really disturbing facts that are emerging in this. And that's why we need to complete the investigation and that's why there needs to be a full criminal investigation.

WALLACE: Congressman Levin, you know, you can say, well, that's just the Republican majority on Ways and Means. But the Treasury Department inspector general did a report that came out last May and he found that conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status were treated very differently from liberal groups. Let's put up his findings: 30 percent of organizations with progress or progressive in their names were examined as possible political groups. And, therefore, not included -- would not have been considered for tax exempt status. But 100 percent of groups with Tea Party, Patriot or 9/12 in their names were examined. Congressman Levin, 248 conservative groups were examined, but only 29 liberal groups. How do you explain that disparity?

REP. SANDER LEVIN (D-MI), RANKING MEMBER, WAYS AND MEANS CMTE: Well, first of all, the inspector general left out the information in his report that there were liberal groups. But let me try to explain what's happening here. You know, the document that we were given to look over, it said this on the top: "The following document contains confidential tax reform information and is being provided to you for review. Any subsequent unauthorized disclosure of its content is prohibited by law and is punishable by fine or imprisonment." So, what happens is the chairman gives us the material. We can look at it for one day. Take no notes. And then we go into executive session and we violate the confidentiality of the taxpayer’s records --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: Congressman Levin that is a very interesting answer. But it has nothing to do with my question. I'm asking you a specific question --

LEVIN: It does. It does.

WALLACE: No, it doesn't, sir. I'm asking you a specific question. How do you explain the fact that 30 percent of progressive groups were examined for their tax exempt status eligibility and 100 percent of conservative groups? How do you explain that?

LEVIN: I'll explain it. It also does what I said to respond to your question as to what's going on here. More Tea Party groups and conservative groups applied for 501c4 status than other groups. In 2006, of the 501c4 organizations, only $1 million was spent on election campaign stuff. In 2012, $256 million and two of the organizations were Koch brother organizations and a third was Karl Rove. So, one half --

WALLACE: But, sir, it still does not explain -- you can say that there are more conservative groups. But it doesn't explain why 100 percent of conservative groups were examined and only 30 percent of liberal groups. It doesn't matter if it was 10-3, it was 100 percent of the conservative groups, and 30 percent of the liberal groups. How do you explain that?

LEVIN: Look, this is what the attorney general is looking into.

WALLACE: He's been looking into it for a year, sir.

LEVIN: The president called for an examination by the attorney general. They are looking into that. We should not disrupt that by essentially having a secret session.

Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer
Jeffrey Meyer is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center.