A hearing into federal policies on marijuana enforcement turned turned into high drama Friday when a Texas Republican used the chance to try to find out basic facts about the Justice Department’s investigation of the IRS targeting scandal – and learned nothing.
Under sharp questioning by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, David O’Neil, an associate deputy attorney general whose responsibilities include public corruption investigations, was repeatedly unable to provide basic information about the IRS probe, including who is in charge of it and how many agents under his command are involved.
A cynic might think there wasn’t any investigation at all.
Jordan sounds like a cynic.
“The DOJ investigation has been a joke, as evidenced by Mr. O’Neil’s unfamiliarity with even the most basic details of the work being done by the division he oversees,” Jordan told the Daily Mail.
The IRS scandal broke a year ago, when Lois Lerner, then head of the IRS division for tax-exempt organizations, admitted the IRS had targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny when they sought tax-exempt status in the run-up to President Obama’s re-election in 2012.
Groups with names that indicated they opposed the president had their applications delayed, which hindered their political effectiveness. Groups whose names indicated they were sympathetic to Democrat positions were spared the extra attention.
Since her admission, Lerner has invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and has been cited for contempt of Congress and congressional Democrats and their liberal media allies have tried to bury the story — along with the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans — as a “phony scandal.”
As Jordan made clear by using the marijuana enforcement hearing to press the case, Republicans aren’t letting the issue die.
And as a subcommittee chairman on Rep. Darrell Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he’s in a position to keep it alive.
“We are talking about the IRS violating the First Amendment rights of Americans, and we deserve a real investigation that helps us deliver justice,” he told the Mail.
CORRECTION: The original version of this post stated Rep. Jim Jordan’s home state incorrectly. He is from Ohio.
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