Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: May 16, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, last night the President took an important symbolic step in accepting the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Miller. I had called for this resignation on Monday, when we learned Mr. Miller signed his name to one, if not more, letters that we now know couldn't possibly have been truthful--couldn't possibly have been truthful. But let us be clear: This symbolic step was just that, symbolic.

What Americans want right now is answers about what happened at the IRS, why it wasn't disclosed earlier, who is ultimately accountable for this behavior, and assurances this kind of thing isn't going to go on at the IRS or anywhere else in the Federal Government because the allegations of ideological targeting only continue to multiply. This is continuing to multiply.

This morning I would like to focus on just one of those incidents. It is the case of a group called the National Organization for Marriage. Last May Senator Hatch, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, sent a letter to the IRS inquiring about reports that someone--someone--at the IRS had leaked confidential donor information from NOM--the National Organization for Marriage--to an advocacy group whose political goals were in direct conflict with its own.

NOM has since released documents suggesting that this information came from one source--from within the IRS itself.

All this took place, by the way, in the middle of a national political campaign. Significantly, one of the NOM donors whose name was leaked was none other than Mitt Romney.

And what about the group it was leaked to?

It was headed by a guy who was named a national co-chair of the Obama campaign, and who published the confidential donor information on the website of the organization he ran, an organization opposed to the goals of NOM.

So here is another situation that, at the very least, clearly merits investigation.

There are allegations here that someone at the IRS committed a very serious crime that had the effect of chilling the speech of a political organization that happened to be on the wrong side of the current administration.

Yet, a year later, Senator Hatch has yet to hear anything back from the IRS. And, according to the folks at NOM, neither have they.

Last year the people at NOM said they brought their concerns about this potentially illegal activity to the IRS and the Justice Department. They say they even hired a forensic specialist to prove that the document that was leaked had originated at the IRS.

According to NOM, the forensics guy knew the document came from the IRS because it bore a watermark distinctive to the agency. And they say they had to hire him--get this--because the IRS asked NOM if they had leaked the confidential information themselves. So they say they provided evidence to show they had not leaked it themselves, and then earlier this year they asked the IRS to release all the information about their complaint, which had apparently reached a dead end at the IRS. And here is what they say they've gotten back: crickets.

They say they have not heard a thing from the IRS or the DOJ about this potentially illegal breach of their confidential donor information--even as they have poured significant resources of their own into the investigation, and, according to them, seen some of their supporters scared off.

Think about that: the IRS has not had the time to respond to this group, or the Finance Committee--a full year after their confidential donor information appears to have been leaked, from inside the IRS, to one of NOM's ideological opponents.

But when the liberal group ProPublica requested confidential information about conservative groups, the IRS got back to those folks with the information they wanted in about two weeks.

This is exactly the kind of thing I have been warning about for more than a year. Here is a group with an agenda that runs counter to that of the administration. Somebody over at the IRS gets a hold of their donor lists. And leaks it to their opponents.

Why? So anybody who thinks about supporting them thinks twice. This is what government intimidation and harassment looks like. It is completely unacceptable.

The idea that you have got to move heaven and earth to get somebody in the Federal Government to lift a finger to get to the bottom of it is an outrage. This is the kind of thing that people should be tripping over themselves to resolve. Yet Senator Hatch is still waiting on a response to a letter he sent about it to the IRS commissioner--last May!

No one should be intimidated by the government into shutting up as part of our political process.

That is why the Republican members of the Finance Committee are sending a letter today to Treasury's Inspector General for Tax Administration requesting investigation into this very issue.

Because, without this sort of inquiry, we may never have confirmed the inappropriate harassment of conservative groups that was going on at the IRS for two years.

Apparently, this is the only way to get this administration to take responsibility for its actions.

We are determined to do that, because there is a very dangerous precedent being set here. I will say it again: Americans, be they conservative or liberal, should be free to participate in the political process without fear of harassment or intimidation from their own government.

I would also like to note that, last month, the Secretary of Energy nominee, Dr. Ernest Moniz, was cleared by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with robust bipartisan support. The full Senate will likely vote on his nomination today.

A number of my colleagues and I are optimistic about Dr. Moniz's pragmatic approach to solving America's energy challenges.

In particular, I look forward to working with him on finding a sustainable, long-term solution for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant--a facility that benefits our country, its community, and the many dedicated workers who work there.

I yield the floor.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT