Today, IRS commissioner John Koskinen is testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee. And Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra, for one, thinks that’s a damn shame:
Becerra felt so sorry for Koskinen that he gave him advice on how to cope with this trying ordeal:
Commissioner, thank you for being here, and let me add my regrets to you that this hearing has been conducted as less [of ] a hearing than it has been as an inquisition. And you deserve better. You certainly are obligated to give us truthful answers, and we appreciate that you’re trying to. Let me suggest to you one thing: You have right to try and respond to any question. If you find that you are being badgered, or not given an opportunity to respond, just take a breath, then try to get your answer out. If you are not given that opportunity, then recognize that again, it’s just maybe not a hearing, but an inquisition. But that you have a right to make sure the record reflects what you, under oath, would like to say.
He may as well have just testified on Koskinen’s behalf. Geez.
You know who should be badgered, though, according to Becerra? Groups sowing the seeds of “dark money”:
Becerra: Some want to confuse the real issue that’s been raised by this investigation. Let me ask you a question: In this added scrutiny that IRS was giving to these so-called “social welfare organizations,” is there evidence that shows that any number of different types of organizations, other than just far-right or conservative organizations, were being scrutinized?
Koskinen: There is evidence that organizations across the spectrum were reviewed. The bulk of the applications were from conservative groups, so the bulk of the reviews were of conservative groups.
Becerra: But it wasn’t just of conservative groups.
Koskinen: That’s correct.
Becerra: OK, so some would like to portray this as just targeting, or an attack on, conservative groups. But the evidence that’s been revealed to everyone, including members in this committee, is otherwise. I think we’re watching how people are trying to confuse the issue here. This investigation should truly be about what’s really wrong with the system. And that is that today in America, these so-called “social welfare organizations,” these not-for-profit organizations that get special tax breaks that ordinary Americans don’t get, they pay less in taxes than an organization that doesn’t have that tax status as a 501(c)4, they spent in the last election cycle, 2012, more money as social welfare organizations than the two political parties combined. $256 million spent by so-called “social welfare organizations” to conduct political campaigns, while the two parties, which are there to conduct political campaigns, spent less than the $256 million [that] these social welfare organizations spent. I hope at some point, Commissioner, we’ll have a chance to get into that, because my understanding is that we’re seeing now the seeds of this “dark money” that’s being spent. [Emphasis ours]
Katie Pavlich is pretty sure Becerra isn’t terribly concerned about liberal groups:
Others are inclined to agree:
This hearing isn’t about Scott Walker, either. And yet, Becerra managed to work him in:
My understanding is there is an investigation by the state prosecutors in the state of Wisconsin of the Wisconsin governor for perhaps coordinating — illegally — campaign activities in ways that might violate the law. What we’re finding is that fewer and fewer of these organizations that are applying for this tax-exempt status that gives them special tax treatment are doing social welfare. They’re doing nothing more than campaigning. Is that something that the IRS is concerned about, that what was to be a tax provision and tax status reserved for organizations that want to do social welfare, is being used to conduct campaign activities?