Amid failed resolution condemning his actions, Issa apologizes to Cummings

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(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

In response to the explosive incident with U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said on Thursday that he has apologized for his actions.

Calling what happened “an unfortunate incident,” Issa’s apology followed a failed vote initiated by Democrats to sanction the chairman for his “offensive and disrespectful manner,” according to U-T San Diego.

Isss shut off Cummings microphone after adjourning a hearing Wednesday on the IRS scandal, explaining later that he didn’t consider a request by Cummings to ask a question, because the congressman wasn’t asking a question.

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Cummings said at the time that he had “a procedural question,” but when Issa initially gave him an opportunity to ask his question, Cummings instead began condemning the committee’s proceedings.

“This evening, Chairman Issa telephoned me and apologized for his conduct, and I accepted his apology,” Cummings said in statement released by his office, according to Politico.

The resolution calling for Issa to be sanctioned failed along party lines, by a 211-186 vote.

Lost in all the drama was that former IRS official Lois Lerner was back before Congress Wednesday, but invoked her 5th Amendment rights again in refusing to testify.

Issa released the questions he intended to ask Lerner:

1. In October 2010, Lerner told a Duke University group: “The Supreme Court dealt a huge blow, overturning a 100-year-old precedent that basically corporations couldn’t give directly to political campaigns.  And everyone is up in arms because they don’t like it.  The Federal Election Commission can’t do anything about it.  They want the IRS to fix the problem.”

Who exactly wanted the IRS to “fix the problem” caused by Citizens United?

2. In February 2011, Lerner e-mailed her colleagues in the IRS: “Tea Party Matter very dangerous.  This could be the vehicle to go to court on the issue of whether Citizens United overturning the ban on corporate spending applies to tax-exempt rules.  Counsel and Judy Kindell need to be in on this one please.  Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”

Why did Lerner think the Tea Party cases were “very dangerous”?

3. In September 2010, Lerner e-mailed subordinates about initiating a “c4 project,” but wrote: “we need to be cautious so it isn’t a per se political project.”

Why was Lerner worried about this being perceived as a political project?

4. Michael Seto, manager of EO Technical in Washington, testified that you ordered Tea Party cases to undergo a “multi-tier review.”  He testified: “[Lerner] sent me email saying that when these cases need to go through multi-tier review and they will eventually have to go to Miss Kindell and the chief counsel’s office.”

Why did Lerner order the Tea Party cases to undergo a “multi-tier review”?

5. In June 2011, Lerner requested that Holly Paz obtain a copy of the tax-exempt application filed by Crossroads GPS so that her senior technical advisor, Judy Kindell, could review it and summarize the issues for Lerner.

Why did Lerner want to have the Crossroads GPS application?

6. In June 2012, Lerner was part of an e-mail exchange about writing new regulations on political speech for 501(c)(4) groups “off-plan” in 2013.

Doesn’t this “off-plan” effort from 2012 contradict Administration assertions that new regulations were written in response to the 2013 TIGTA report?

7. In February 2014, President Obama stated that there was not a “smidgeon of corruption” in the IRS targeting.

If this is true, why do House Democrats believe that Lois Lerner has a well-founded fear of criminal prosecution that allows her to claim the Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify?

Tom Tillison

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