Issa Exits With Final Parting Shots at ‘Abuse of Power’ in IRS

Representative Darrell Issa is taking one last crack at the IRS.

The California Republican, forced by his party’s term-limit rule to relinquish the chairmanship of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the new Congress, is releasing a 210-page staff report tomorrow that summarizes his panel’s investigation into the tax agency’s treatment of politically active nonprofit groups.

“Nearly five years after the IRS first began targeting conservative organizations for additional scrutiny due to their political beliefs, the agency has still not escaped the shadow of its misdeeds and abuse of power,” the report concludes.

The report, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, recaps the Internal Revenue Service’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups and shifting explanations from officials for what happened.

It argues that the IRS was swayed by rhetoric from Democrats calling for tougher rules on nonprofits’ involvement in politics and blames senior IRS executives for failing to tell Congress what they knew about these efforts.

Congress has been investigating the IRS activities since May 2013, when the agency said it had given Tea Party groups extra scrutiny. That revelation led to the resignation of acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller and the suspension and retirement of Lois Lerner, the director of exempt organizations.

Issa held a series of hearings on the IRS, spotlighting the issue throughout the 2014 campaign season and engaging in confrontations with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over the agency’s speed in producing documents.

The House investigation isn’t complete; it will pass on to the next chairman of the oversight committee, Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah. A bipartisan investigation by the Senate Finance Committee is continuing, as is a Justice Department probe and an examination by the IRS’ inspector general.

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