Wednesday, June 26, 2019

"QUESTIONABLE ETHICS": Rep. Gosar Attacks Special Counsel Chief On Discredited IRS/McCain/Tea Party Line, Then Backs Off (WATCH)

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar attacked the head of the Office of Special Counsel for his "questionable ethics" in a hearing today, using a discredited theory that the late Senator John McCain wanted to punish Tea Party groups. When confronted by the witness, Gosar tried to back away.

Confused? That is understandable. This video from today's House Oversight Committee will clarify. And, here are the basics.

The witness is Henry Kerner. He is chief of the Office of Special Counsel, and was testifying about his recommendation that White House Special Advisor Kellyanne Conway be removed from her job for repeated Hatch Act violations. Earlier in his career, Kerner worked for the late-Arizona Senator John McCain.

In that capacity, Kerner met with the IRS in 2013, before the controversy about whether the IRS was targeting the applications of Tea Party organizations burst into the public sphere. Gosar today accused Kerner of recommending that the IRS "harassing non-profit groups until they are unable to continue operating."

"You yourself have a history of questionable ethics," stated Gosar. Kerner used the transcript of that meeting to show that the discussion was about "sham groups" and that there was no mention of conservative or Tea Party groups.

"I would NEVER target conservative groups. I'm here because of the Tea Party 2010." (Republican former Rep. Darrell Issa hired Kerner for the same Oversight Committee he was testifying in front of today.) "It's just a smear."

Gosar then tried to weave in McCain's enmity towards the Tea Party, to demonstrate that the attack on Kerner makes sense. Kerner explained that McCain was furious that the IRS may have targeted conservative groups and instructed Kerner to go "all out" to show that such behavior from the IRS would be unacceptable.

In full retreat, Gosar responded with "I just wanted to clear it up." He moved on.

(Article has been corrected to fix Special Counsel's name. An unfortunate misspelling, indeed.)

Ironically-related article from earlier this month: "The Ghost of Holiday Bonuses Past: FEC Follows-Up On Rep. Gosar's Questionable Staff Bonuses"

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