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Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it seems like, with each passing hour, the facts get more and more inconvenient for senior folks over at the IRS.

Yesterday, it was reported that the agency may have gone after a ministry founded by Billy Graham. We also learned that the very same IRS office that admitted to harassing conservative groups also released nine pending applications for tax-exempt status to the liberal investigative group ProPublica.

How did we find out? ProPublica revealed it.

Basically all we have gotten from the IRS, on the other hand, is an attempt to scapegoat some folks out in Cincinnati and a laughable attempt to move past this whole issue with a ridiculous op-ed claiming ``mistakes were made.''

Well, most folks don't think that ignoring the Constitution is simply a ``mistake.'' I like the fact that one group the IRS targeted, when asked by the agency to provide reading materials related to their mission, mailed them a copy of the Constitution.

Today, I would like to encourage every group that feels like it has been unjustly targeted to do the same. Maybe just underline the First Amendment before you put it in the envelope, because that is what this is all about.

But getting back to the latest news--the leak to ProPublica--let's be clear about what this means: the IRS is forbidden from providing that kind of information about groups that have not been approved. It is a bright line prohibition that even the lowliest staffers at the IRS surely should know about.

We intend to find out all the relevant details. Yesterday, I said the administration needs to comply fully with all congressional inquiries on the matter. This ProPublica leak will unquestionably be one of them. The administration needs to make witnesses available to testify on this and on any other incident of targeting the administration's ideological opponents, and to resist the temptation to stonewall or obfuscate what took place.

Today, other Senate Republicans are joining me in this call. More than 40 members have signed a letter demanding as much of the President.

If the President is truly concerned about this issue, as he claims, he will work openly and transparently with us to get to the bottom of what happened and people will be held accountable. These allegations are serious--that there was an effort to bring the power of the Federal Government to bear on those the administration disagreed with, in the middle of a heated national election. It actually could be criminal. And we are determined to get answers.

Again, let's not forget that we would not know any of this if congressional Republicans had not demanded better answers than the ones we were getting from the administration. When I and several of my colleagues wrote to the IRS last year seeking clarification on allegations that they were harassing conservative groups, the response we got was essentially: nothing to see here, move along.

When I pressed the issue in a speech last June, the left either ridiculed the suggestion or ignored it. When IRS officials were asked point blank in congressional hearings whether this was happening, they said point blank that it wasn't.

Of course it turns out it was.

By the way--you know who did not have trouble getting information out of the IRS? ProPublica, which was pushing an ideological agenda friendly to the administration. When they asked the IRS for information, they got it--in 12 days. Some of it was not even supposed to be released.

When I asked the IRS for information, when did I get it? Only when it was coming out anyway in an IG report.

So there are a lot--a lot--of unanswered questions that remain.

Which officials knew about this scandal?

When did they know about it?

What did they do about it when they found out?

Did they deliberately mislead Congress and the American people?

The number of officials involved continues to grow. And now, with this revelation from ProPublica, it appears that the campaign against conservative groups was of a broader scope than originally admitted. So it is no surprise that the American people are demanding more than just some half-hearted apology made under duress. As an activist from one of the targeted groups in Kentucky said yesterday, ``Apology not accepted.''

``There are many questions that still need to be asked,'' he said. ``There are many that remain unanswered.''

My constituent was absolutely right.


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