House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., subpoenaed the Treasury Department on Friday to force production of documents on IRS political targeting that the agency has refused to hand over.
"While the Obama administration has so publicly deflected responsibility for the targeting, it simultaneously has attempted to thwart congressional oversight into the matter," Issa wrote in a letter to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. "The IRS has engaged in a systematic effort to delay, frustrate, impede, and obstruct the committee's investigation."
The IRS has released approximately 12,000 pages of documents related to the committee's investigation into illegal harassment of Tea Party, conservative and evangelical groups seeking tax exemption during the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns. Of those, 2,500 are fully redacted.
The IRS originally identified 64 million documents related to the probe. Now the agency says there are only 660,000 responsive documents, according to Issa's letter. It has also limited the documents it will produce by narrowing the date range and search terms for the request.
"While the committee is willing to work with the IRS to guide the agency in responding to oversight requests, it is patently unacceptable for the IRS to unilaterally revise the scope or search terms used to identify responsive material," Issa wrote.
The subpoena makes good on a promise Issa made on Tuesday that unless the IRS stopped stonewalling its investigation, he would start forcing document disclosure.
The committee is demanding the IRS release all communications to or from Lois Lerner, Holly Paz, William Wilkins and Jonathan Davis, key players in the Tea Party targeting probe, between January 2009 and the present, as well as a wide swath of emails between IRS and executive branch employees for the same period.
It isn't the first time in recent years a House committee has been forced to subpoena executive branch officials stonewalling an investigations.
A recent Washington Examiner survey of oversight efforts by eight House committees found multiple instances of the Obama administration ignoring document requests.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee, for example was forced to issue subpoenas when White House officials refused to answer eight of the panel's 11 major requests, beginning in 2011.