The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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July 24, 2013

Issa's scandal hunting the real scandal

The GOP congressman also has a checkered past


Issa’s next “scandal” was the failure of Solyndra, a solar energy company that he claimed got Energy Department loan guarantees because of cronyism and political corruption.

We subsequently learned that Solyndra had been approved for loan guarantees under Bush, and thus was pre-approved for loans under Obama’s stimulus program. Issa’s committee could document no cronyism and no presidential involvement.

Issa also probed the Department of Homeland Security’s response to Freedom of Information Act requests, saying the matter “reeks of a Nixonian enemies list, and this committee will not tolerate it.” There was no enemies list and, once again, no presidential involvement.

Issa next accused former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of giving false information to Congress about her role in security arrangements for the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. He tried several ways to implicate Obama in the tragedy, including by altering talking points.

It turned out Clinton wasn’t involved in the security decisions and the White House wasn’t behind changes to the talking points, which were drafted by the CIA to protect their secret Benghazi programs.

Issa is still working to manufacture a scandal he can tie to the White House. The latest is his claim that the IRS was targeting Tea Party groups by delaying their 501(c)4 designation, the rule permitting “social welfare” organizations to collect tax-deductible contributions without having to disclose their donors. It is the IRS’s job to adjudicate such applications, many of them by political groups claiming to be social welfare groups. Sixteen IRS employees who identified themselves as Republicans, Democrats and independents said in testimony there was no political motivation nor outside influence.

Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George reported that there were 296 “potential political cases” reviewed through December 2012. The I.R.S. received 199,689 applications for tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012, which means the 296 cases represent less than 0.15 percent. That number was so small as to make the discrimination charges ludicrous. Moreover, no applications were denied.

The IRS internal review found “no evidence of intentional wrongdoing” and “no evidence of involvement from anyone outside of the IRS.”

Tom Maertens describes himself as a political centrist who has worked in national security for both political parties in the White House and in the U.S. Senate.



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