Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, echoing President Obama, charged Sunday that Republicans are manufacturing “phony scandals,” telling Fox News Sunday that “there is no evidence” that Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups was authorized by “any political figure” inside the Obama administration
“There were a number of supervisors, all ‘career,’ who exercised bad judgment,” Lew said, deflecting blame from the president toward civil servants outside the political process. Lew also downplayed the partisan angle of the IRS’s actions, saying that “we found that there was equal opportunity bad judgment” with career IRS employees picking both conservative and liberal groups for extra review.
Lew’s statements reflect a continuing shift in the administration’s rhetoric regarding the IRS’ actions toward political nonprofits and other controversies surrounding the federal bureaucracy. Obama last week painted the GOP’s inquiries into the IRS and other possible scandals as part of an effort to obstruct his domestic agenda.
Lew was earlier ordered by Obama to review the IRS targeting of political groups. Lew suggested that the White House has adequately addressed the IRS’s failures.
The president has “put in place methods to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Lew said, including the appointment of Danny Werfel to run the IRS. As for the further action against the IRS, Lew said that he is “leaving the investigation to the appropriate people who do the investigations.”
Lew also downplayed charges that the IRS had targeted conservative groups far more than liberal nonprofits for additional scrutiny.
“The mistakes that were made in judgment were unacceptable and needed to be fixed,” Lew said.
The IRS admitted in May that it had targeted groups with “Tea Party” or “patriots” in their name, but so far no top agency officials have accepted blame for authorizing that additional scrutiny.