GOP Stocks Up On Election Ammo: IRS Targeting and Benghazi

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If Republicans and Democrats were a group of kids preparing for a water balloon fight, both sides would have a few things they’d fill those projectiles with in preparation for battle. Democrats would be filling theirs with minimum wage increases, immigration reform, and as much “Republicans only care about the wealthy” rhetoric as can be stretched into a balloon without it popping.

Republicans on the other hand have strategies of their own to get ready — and a few are worth noting after the events of this week. Of course, the GOP has overfilled a dozen balloons on Obamacare, but likely have a whole stockpile ready to throw anyhow. They’ve also filled their balloons with two accusatory bombardments: the IRS scandal and Benghazi.

What this balloon war translates to in Washington was visible in the House of Representatives this week in the form of a Wednesday vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt. Lerner, an IRS official who was accused of disproportionately targeting Republicans, has chosen not to testify in font of Congress and therefore can be held in contempt. The House also passed a resolution that asked Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to look into the Tea Party’s situation with the IRS beyond what has already been done.

Unless the President decides to assert executive privilege, there is no precedent for the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to do anything but pursue this criminal case,” said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) in a statement. “Absent political interference by the Administration, this legally binding action — as well as a separate resolution calling for a special prosecutor to take over the Main Justice Department’s tainted and dormant investigation — requires the Justice Department to take action,” he wrote.

The Oversight Committee also published a long list of findings in its report, stating that three conservative groups, Prescott Tea Party, American Junto, and the Albuquerque Tea Party all saw inappropriate targeting by the IRS, and that the groups who “received unprecedented review and experienced years-long delays” were all conservative, and that progressive and liberal groups were not given the same degree of treatment. It specifically listed what it considered to be false claims, including the suggestion from Democrats that ACORN groups, Emerge America Groups, and Occupy Wall Street saw appropriate scrutiny not comparable to political targeting that the Tea Party received.

The special prosecution resolution was approved with considerably more Democratic support than the resolution to find Lerner in contempt, with twenty-six voting yes for the former, and only six for the latter. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave a statement after the vote, emphasizing Lois Lerner’s role and the need for her to be punished. “It’s time for Lois Lerner to account for her actions, and if she won’t then the full force of the law should be brought to bear,” he said, increasing the conspiracy rhetoric near the end of his statement with reference to Benghazi, Fast and Furious, and “any other area where the administration is hiding the facts” promising to “get the full truth.”

William W. Taylor III, Lerner’s lawyer, and many Democrats, argued that the resolutions were themselves political in nature. “Today’s vote has nothing to do with the facts or the law. Its only purpose is to keep the baseless IRS ‘conspiracy’ alive through the midterm elections,” said Taylor to The New York Times.

The Republican-led House also passed a resolution to create a investigative committee to look into the events in Benghazi. They are specifically pointing fingers at Hillary Clinton, saying that she has lied about her involvement and about the details of the attack on Americans in there that took place in 2012, what happened, and how the U.S. dealt with it.

Democrats are similarly blaming the attention on Clinton and Benghazi on the election, an accusation that undoubtedly holds truth, but doesn’t detract from the concerns many on the right are voicing. “Four Americans died at the hands of terrorists nearly 20 months ago, and we are still missing answers, accountability, and justice,” said Boehner in a press release focusing on recent subpoenas and documents that have gone unreleased.

The resolution calls specifically for an examination by a committee into “internal and public executive branch communications about the attacks … accountability for policies and decisions related to the security of facilities in Benghazi, Libya, and the response to the attacks, including individuals and entities responsible for those policies and decisions,” language that is rather obviously targeting Clinton.

“They have to rough her up. If Hillary announced definitively tomorrow that she had no interest in running for president, I think Benghazi would disappear,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) to The New York Times. 

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