WASHINGTON (FOX19) - Just days after Pres. Obama angered conservatives by insisting there really is no scandal surrounding the targeting of Tea Party groups by IRS workers in Cincinnati and elsewhere, the agency's new chief testified in front of Congress.
John Koskinen, who granted one of his few interviews to FOX19 while in Cincinnati last month, also tried to suggest that the agency has largely moved on.
"The management problems associated with 501(c)4 applications have shaken trust in the IRS," Koskinen told the House Ways and Means Committee. "Under the leadership of former acting commissioner Danny Werfel, the IRS has already made great progress in this area. And my job is to make sure we complete the work."
501(c)4 refers to a portion of the tax code under which conservative groups have been attempting to gain tax-exempt status from the IRS. Documents show that some of the agency's workers used keywords like "Tea Party" to flag many of those applications.
As for why that happened, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-Louisiana) insists there's much more that needs to be revealed.
"Commissioner Koskinen, if you've been told the investigation is complete and no targeting occurred you've been misled," said the chairman. "Last weekend, the president claimed in an interview, there was 'not even a smidgen of corruption at the IRS.' And he blamed the targeting on 'boneheaded decisions by a local office.' Now this committee has actually investigated the matter to a significant degree and found otherwise. I believe the president's staff is either very poorly informed or they're actually misleading him."
In his interview on FOX during Sunday's Super Bowl, President Obama accused FOX News Channel of perpetuating the theory that IRS bureaucrats and managers illegally targeted conservatives, including Tea Party groups.
"I mean, these kinds of things keep on surfacing in part because you and your TV station will promote them," Pres. Obama told FOX's Bill O'Reilly.
Chairman Boustany said today that the IRS should turn-over more documents to his committee's investigators. But the way he said it led to a verbal skirmish with the committee's top Democrat.
"I think it's in the interest of every member of this committee, regardless of their party affiliation, to get to the bottom of this based on the facts," Boustany said.
That didn't sit well with Michigan Democrat Carl Levin.
"Look, just ask him, 'Will you supply the information?'" Levin said to Boustany. "Don't veer off in trying to revive a position that has not been supported one iota. One iota. And it's clear you're trying to keep this issue alive for political purposes."
When FOX19 interviewed Koskinen last month at the federal building in downtown Cincinnati, he told us he didn't believe any of his employees had done anything illegal. However, it appears he's yet to convince members of the Tea Party or conservatives in Congress.