Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Wednesday that there is no evidence that the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of tea-party applications was politically motivated.
“With all of the investigation that’s gone on, there has been no evidence of any political decision making in the IRS,” Lew told CBS’s Scott Pelley in an interview set to air Wednesday evening. Lew ascribed the scrutiny that tea-party applications received to “bad judgment” on the part of agency officials. “The president said that. I said that. We put in place a new acting commissioner who has done what he was asked to do to get to the bottom of it and to go forward building a strong IRS that the public can be confident in.”
The acting commissioner, Danny Werfel, is in the midst of investigating the targeting scandal, as are the FBI, the Department of Justice, and several congressional committees. None of them, to date, have revealed evidence that the targeting was motivated by political animus, but Republican lawmakers in particular have made clear that their probes are, at this point, incomplete.
Asked whether any political appointee has been implicated in the scandal — Pelley was clearly referring to the IRS’s chief counsel, William Wilkins, whose office was involved in drafting the guidelines used to process tea-party applicaitons — Lew responded, “There has been no evidence of anyone in a political position having been involved in any of those decisions.”
Both President Obama and his spokesman Jay Carney today slammed the GOP for its focus on “phony scandals,” but Republican lawmakers have suggested more damning details may emerge. “I will stay on this until we get full answers in every area,” Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa told Sean Hannity on Wednesday.