A couple of Arkansas angles today on the IRS story from both ends of the U.S. Capitol.
Congressman Tim Griffin joined in the grilling of outgoing acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller when he appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee today to testify on the unfolding scandal at the Internal Revenue Service regarding the targeting of conservative-oriented 501(c)(4) organizations. Griffin’s time was right after Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania) received a standing ovation from the crowd for his remarks, which I included in the clip below as well.
“You talked about how you’re a horribly run organization, if you’re on the other side of the fence, you’re not given that excuse. And the IRS comes in, you’re not allowed to be shoddy, you’re not allowed to be run horribly, you’re not allowed to make mistakes, you’re not allowed to do one damn thing that doesn’t come in compliance, and if you do, you’re held responsible right then. I just think the American people have seen what’s going on right now in their government. This is absolutely an overreach and this is an outrage for all America,” said Kelly.
Griffin told a story about a phone call he got from a constituent in Arkansas that was asked by an IRS agent during an audit how much cash he carries around in his wallet.
“I don’t care what rules are written down or not written down. These people ought to have enough common sense to know that this is just stupid to ask this kind of stuff. And if they don’t know that on their own without something written in a regulation, they should quit or be fired,” said Griffin.
Griffin was complimentary of Inspector General Russell George’s report on the IRS, but pointed out that it was more of an audit not an investigation. Griffin asked George if he was conducting an investigation now and when he said he could not answer, Griffin said, “Well, that means you are.”
“The bottom line is for those looking that this is an audit and it’s helpful, but it is the tip of the iceberg,” said Griffin.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mark Pryor has taken heat for campaign contributions he took from the IRS Employee Union. Pryor received $11,000 total from the National Treasury Employees Union, which includes IRS employees – $8,500 in 2002 and $2,500 in 2008 during his re-election campaign.
“How in the world can Arkansans expect Mark Pryor to hold the IRS accountable for their shocking and inappropriate behavior when they’re helping bankroll his campaign? We are calling on him to return those contributions and hold this administration accountable,” said David Ray, spokesman for the Republican Party of Arkansas.
I have asked the Pryor campaign if they plan to return the contribution or keep the money, but have not heard back. But it is certainly going to be an issue for Pryor if he keeps it with the heat the IRS is currently taking.