WASHINGTON -- At the beginning of the IRS Tea Party targeting controversy, the White House insisted the scandal was confined to a rogue operation in the agency's Cincinnati office. But now, it's clear the scandal was rooted in the nation's capital.
"We're following the facts; they undeniably now lead to Washington," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said.
During its recent hearing, the House watchdog committee uncovered a connection between the extra scrutiny of applications for tax exempt status of Tea Party groups and the IRS's Chief Counsel William J. Wilkins.
What does it mean now that the IRS chief counsel has been implicated in the Tea Party targeting scandal? Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, answers that question and more on The 700 Club, July 30.
Wilkins is one of just two IRS positions appointed by the president.
Carter Hull, a lawyer who retired from the IRS after 48 years of service, told the committee he was directed to send his recommendations about the tax applications of Tea Party groups to the Office of the Chief Counsel.
"Look, we know how this works. We know that when you put this much discretion and this much discretionary power in the hands of the few, eventually, it may well be abused for partisan political purposes. That happened here and we've got to get to the bottom of it," Rep. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said.
The White House now calls the IRS scandal "phony."
However, soon after it broke, President Obama appointed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to investigate. Lew said there's no evidence of political wrongdoing.
"We have to look at the facts," Lew said. "There have been lot of investigations; there have been a lot of hearings, IGs, the Justice Department. There is no evidence of any political decision maker who was involved in any of those decisions."
But when pressed by the host of "Fox News Sunday," he wouldn't say if anyone has asked Wilkins if he was involved with targeting Tea Party groups.
Tom McClusky, works for the Family Research Council, a non-profit conservative group that was audited.
He told CBN News political targeting by the IRS is nothing new. He said the agency has become little more than a political arm of the party in charge of the White House.
"These are American citizens being targeted," he said. "They're not phony people. This is not an Astroturf kind of scandal. This is a scandal that has actual roots and shows the inherent problems at the IRS.