When Judicial Watch recently disclosed the latest batch of records involvingthe Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) scandalous targeting of conservative groups, some news outlets determined that Senator John McCain, not only knew about it, but also pressured the agency to actually attack Tea Party nonprofits.
JW never claimed the government documents establish that McCain or his staff called on the IRS to target or attack conservatives, but the records do show that former IRS official Lois Lerner was pressured by both Democrat Senator Carl Levin and McCain, an Arizona Republican, for IRS action against political advocacy groups. In fact, the records reveal that Lerner met with select top staffers from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in a “marathon” meeting to discuss concerns raised by both Levin and McCain that the IRS was not reining in political advocacy groups in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
But does that mean McCain urged the IRS to specifically target Tea Party conservative groups like one online media outlet reported in the aftermath of JW’s latest record release? Or does it prove that the veteran senator pressured Lerner to attack conservatives as another internet outfit reported? “It wasn’t just the Obama Regime and the Democrats who were scheming with the Obama IRS to attack the freedom-loving, Constitution-supporting Tea Party grassroots movement,” according to that report. “It was establishment-backed Republican Senator John McCain, an unabashed enemy of conservatives who once called his conservative colleagues, wacko birds.”
The lashing bothered McCain enough to issue JW a written statement denying that his office had anything to do with the IRS targeting of conservative groups. In the statement the senator refers to JW’s work sparking a “series of online reports falsely claiming that my office was somehow involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups – reports that are demonstrably untrue and totally contradicted by my all of my actions over the past several years on this issue.” As evidence McCain offers a link to a dissenting report he released last fall refuting the Democrats’ Majority Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) report claiming the IRS showed no bias against conservative groups. He also includes a newswire story published around the same time as proof that “media coverage at the time noted that I was in total disagreement with Senate Democrats on the issue of whether the IRS targeted conservative groups.”
McCain’s statement to JW goes on: “Like so many Americans, I was shocked and appalled by revelations that the IRS inappropriately singled out conservative groups for scrutiny, and that our tax system was used to target political opponents. As Ranking Member of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, I devoted significant time and resources to help get to the bottom of this disturbing abuse of power by the IRS. Any article suggesting otherwise is simply wrong, and ignores the facts of my actions over the last several years.”
It’s not just news articles suggesting that McCain’s office may have been involved in the IRS scandal. The original founder of the Tea Party Patriots, Mark Meckler, wrote a piece last week questioning the senator’s version of events. Tea Party groups suspected all along that Republicans and Democrats worked together to crush their common enemy, actual conservatives, according to Meckler’s piece. “Maybe, just maybe, Senator McCain did not mind the IRS’ attempts to stifle the First Amendment rights of Tea Party citizens,” Meckler writes. “Maybe his shock at Lerner’s revelation was just as fake as the outrage from the White House.”