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Did John McCain Know about IRS Targeting?

When the IRS scandal broke, Sen. John McCain sent out a press release claiming to be shocked at the news. But was he?

Three years’ of IRS e-mail evidence continues to build against the federal government. The most interesting and possibly disturbing piece of information deals with the fact that Republican Senator McCain and Democrat Senator Carl Levin were both aware of the targeting eleven days before Lerner’s public admission of “inappropriate” actions.

E-mails reveal that staffers from McCain’s office met with IRS personnel for six hours, 11 days before Lerner’s public admission of “inappropriate” actions. Judicial Watch summarizes:

[Lerner] met with select top staffers from the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in a “marathon” meeting to discuss concerns raised by both Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that the IRS was not reining in political advocacy groups in response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  Senator McCain had been the chief sponsor of the McCain-Feingold Act and called the Citizens United decision, which overturned portions of the Act, one of the “worst decisions I have ever seen.” Among those attending the meeting were key aides to the committee minority ranking member, John McCain.

The meeting notes were blacked out, but we can still connect the dots: Sen. Carl Levin and McCain had both expressed frustration with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, to which the IRS targeting appears to have been a response. Senator Levin put extensive pressure on the IRS to shut down conservative-leaning tax-exempt organizations, and Senator McCain has been “vociferous in his calls for reining in free and open political discussion.” It’s not hard to believe that the Senators were happy to see the IRS impose – by regulation – what the Supreme Court had already ruled to be out of bounds.

Both Senators did write a letter to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel following Lerner’s press conference, “claiming outrage that the subject had not even been broached in their committee staffers’ six-hour marathon meeting.” But their cries might have been a little too shrill to be believable.

The letter also says “the interview covered, among other topics, how the IRS determines which groups to review, what actions are taken in connection with the IRS reviews, and how the laws and regulations are used to examine those groups.”

This revelation served as chilling confirmation of a suspicion Tea Party groups had all along: they were under fire from both sides of the establishment in Washington, D.C. Republicans and Democrats worked together to crush their common enemy, actual conservatives.

McCain recently announced that he will run for re-election to the Senate in 2016. He certainly hit some self-governance buzz words in his announcement:

Over the last several years, Arizonans have been rightly frustrated with a wasteful, incompetent federal government bent on expanding its reach and power – from Obamacare to excessive financial and environmental regulation.

Yet to many Americans, John McCain is a card-carrying member of the establishment. He’s been in the Senate since 1986, which means that only three Arizona senators have held the seat longer.

But what about that six hour meeting? McCain has some serious explaining to do about just how much he knew about the targeting at the IRS. He’s certainly had his differences with the Tea Party and conservative Republicans in the past. And his positions on free speech and political action have more in common with liberals who prefer a one-way street over the marketplace of ideas.

Maybe, just maybe, Senator McCain did not mind the IRS’ attempts to stifle the First Amendment rights of Tea Party citizens. Maybe his shock at Lerner’s revelation was just as fake as the outrage from the White House.

McCain says he’s ready for a challenge from the Tea Party. Quitting may not be in his nature, but the tide may be turning against John McCain. If he used his clout on Capitol Hill to aid the IRS’ stifling of citizens, it’s time — past time — for McCain to retire.

Mark Meckler is an original founder of Tea Party Patriots and currently serves as President of Citizens for Self-Governance.

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