The top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday released the full transcript of an interview with an IRS manager, citing it as evidence that the agency’s inappropriate targeting of tea party groups was not a plot directed from Washington. The release comes despite the objections of the committee’s chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who has insisted that releasing the full transcript would compromise the integrity of the ongoing investigation into the tea party targeting.
Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland released the transcript from the committee’s investigation into the scandal in which an IRS manager in the Cincinnati office said that it was his decision to elevate a case that led to the improper screening process of applications from conservative groups.
Issa has speculated that the decision to give extra scrutiny to some conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status was ordered by Washington, rather than a process invented in Cincinnati. “This is a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters, and we’re getting to proving it,” Issa said on a Sunday talk show recently.
“The first effort to centralize these cases was initiated by the same IRS Screening Group Manager in Cincinnati, who told committee staff that he took this action on his own, without any direction from his superiors and without any political motivation,” Cummings wrote in a letter to Issa last week, urging him to release the full transcript of the interview. “If accurate, these statements by the Screening Group Manager appear to directly contradict your allegations of political motivation.”
In the letter, Cummings asked Issa to explain his objection to releasing the interview and what portions he felt should be censored by Monday. Without a response by Tuesday, Cummings published the transcripts with all names blacked out. The full transcript of the interview with the IRS manager, identified in the Washington Post as John Shafer, is in two documents below.