WASHINGTON -- For all the outcry over who in the White House knew about an inspector general report detailing instances of the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups, it turns out someone else was getting regular updates on the issue over the past year: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
J. Russell George, a Treasury Department inspector general, testified Tuesday to the Senate Finance Committee that his department was in touch with Issa's office several times in 2012 and this year regarding its IRS investigation.
Here's a transcript of the exchange between George and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a member of the committee:
MENENDEZ: Inspector General, did Chairman Issa send a letter on August 3rd of 2012 to all the inspector generals reminding them that under the Inspector Generals Act, it requires IGs to report particularly flagrant problems to Congress through the agency head within seven days, via what has been known as the seven-day letter? Did you receive that letter? And, if so, did you respond to inform Chairman Isaa of your investigation into the IRS?
GEORGE: Senator, we did receive the letter, and Chairman Issa's committee was the first to actually contact us regarding this matter. And so through the course of engaging the review, on occasion we have had communications with his staff.
MENENDEZ: In 2012?
GEORGE: And since then, yes.
Issa, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been one of the administration's chief antagonists. He recently sparred with Attorney General Eric Holder, accusing him of regularly keeping information from Congress.
In a little-noticed interview last week, Issa indicated that he knew "approximately" what the IG would report on the IRS' selective targeting of conservative groups, but said it wasn't appropriate to "accuse the IRS until you've had a nonpartisan, deep look."