Congressman: Pro-Life Group's IRS Story Not Necessarily Credible

Congressman: Pro-Life Group's IRS Story Not Necessarily Credible

Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) criticized six witnesses who were targeted for their conservative political beliefs by the IRS at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Tuesday.

McDermott called the Committee’s IRS investigation “political theater,” saying, “The mistake here was that the staff organizing the organizations used the names of the organizations rather than the work they do and asked improper questions to figure that out.”

“It’s clearly wrong. It was inept, stupid and a whole lot of other things,” he continued. “But let’s not get lost. During the Bush administration, liberal groups were targeted without any concern by Mr. Issa or anyone else on this committee. The Republicans were looking for a conspiracy where there isn’t one. Mr. Issa says ‘he can feel it in his gut’ that someone’s broken the law.”

“Everybody involved in this was asking for a tax break,” McDermott told Breitbart News after the hearing. He added, “That’s what the IRS does. They handle taxes in this country. They decide how much people pay in taxes. And if somebody doesn’t want to pay taxes and they go to the IRS and say, ‘I don’t want to pay taxes, and it’s because of the money I’m contributing to X should be tax exempt.’ That’s really what they’re doing here.”

Sue Martinek, President of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, told the Committee that her pro-life group was told by the IRS to promise not to protest or picket in front of Planned Parenthood clinics.

“In June of 2009, [IRS Agent] Richards told me verbally that we needed to send in a letter with the entire board’s signatures stating that under penalty of perjury we would not picket/protest or organize groups to picket/protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” Martinek said. “Upon receiving such a letter, she indicated that the IRS would allow our application to go through.”

McDermott appeared unimpressed with Martinek’s testimony, telling Breitbart News, “All of that–that’s not under oath. People can sit there and say anything they want and I don’t know what happened with the IRS. I did not hear that conversation, so I don’t want to comment on that. I don’t have a comment.”

Committee member Rep. Paul Ryan  (R – WI) immediately responded to McDermott’s claims during the hearing: “So ‘you’re to blame’ I guess is the message here,” Ryan said. “Do you think that you are targeted based upon your political beliefs, your religious beliefs or just because you chose to apply?”