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John Koskinen and the House Oversight Committee

How Sound Bites Trump Truth

LIKE MANY AMERICANS, I want the truth behind Lois Lerner’s “lost emails” and evidence that the IRS intentionally targeted conservative groups. On Monday, June 23rd, I arrived at the House Oversight Committee hearing with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen an hour early, eager to feel part of the action.

But I was disappointed by what I saw. I was disappointed by the unprofessional manner in which the hearing was conducted. The Committee members’ grandstanding made me feel like I was on the campaign trail, not in a hearing. Any hopes of finding the truth were obscured (if not extinguished) by the antics of the Congressmen charged with protecting the people’s interests.

Instead of an organized, methodical and thorough line of questioning, each member of the House Oversight Committee questioned Mr. Koskinen individually. The result was a disjointed hearing that followed no logical narrative. Instead, the Congressmen appeared to focus more on their redundant questions than the witness’ answers. No matter how belabored their points, the Congressmen seemed more concerned with getting on the record than asking meaningful questions. Once again, it appears that sound bites trump truth.

House Republicans have a right to be angry. As a Republican, I am angry. In fact, I think any American who values the freedom of speech and the integrity of the federal government should feel deep concern. But here I am not judging Commissioner Koskinen, nor am I commenting on the serious allegations levied against Lois Lerner and the IRS. Instead, I am criticizing the hearing itself. Commissioner Koskinen was questioned unprofessionally and, perhaps worse, incompetently.

Responding to such criticism, Speaker Boehner admitted, “Frankly, they [the witnesses] should be treated with respect.” Nevertheless, he added, President Obama and his administration “haven’t done a damn thing to get the truth of what really happened.” But if this is true, solemn and methodical questioning by the House Oversight Committee becomes all the more important. If Eric Holder and Barack Obama won’t investigate, the people – and their elected representatives in the legislative branch – must pressure them until they do. If we are sick of the Democrats protecting party interests instead of the nation’s interests, we cannot do the same. Conservatives can’t afford any more shortsighted selfishness on the part of our politicians. For that matter, neither can our country.

I’m not saying anything that Washington insiders don’t already know. But the American people want the truth. They deserve the truth. And they deserve better from the House Oversight Committee. I urge the members of Congress to put the people – their rights, their freedoms, and the just administration of their taxpayer dollars – before sound bites and political self-interest. Let’s get a special prosecutor. Let’s find out what really happened. But for President Obama to get his administration in line, we need to get our Congressmen in line first.

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