Braley says IRS scandal takes focus off legitimate investigation into rule breaking

Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says the IRS scandal has taken the focus off of its legitimate duty to investigate non-profit groups that are breaking the rules.

“I have made it very clear that the Internal Revenue Service has no place for politics,” Braley says.

“The latest reports of what has been happening at the Internal Revenue Service undermines the public’s trust in government, it harms the IRS’s effort to enforce the laws that they’re charged with enforcing. And it hurts their efforts to enforce the laws that apply to 501C-4 non-profit organizations.”

The IRS admitted it targeted conservative groups when applications were put in to review them. Braley says the rules require the non-profit groups to have a 50-percent cap their political activity.

“I believe that there have been abuses of that 50-percent cap and that’s one of the enforcement responsibilities of the Internal Revenue Service. But when you have a cloud hanging over the agency because of the approval of the applications on the front end, it damages the credibility of the agency to conduct a nonpartisan investigation of groups to make sure that they are complying with the law,” Braley says.

He says the IRS problems have to be cleared up before anything can be done about possible violations of the rules by non-profit groups.

“Once those measures are resolved and addressed, then I think it is appropriate to look at whether or not the agency is doing what it needs to to make sure that tax-exempt organizations are not engaging in inappropriate activity within the meaning of the regulations that limit that activity,” according to Braley.

The IRS scandal comes on top of the revelation that the U.S. Justice Department pulled the phone records of the Association Press, and continued questions about how the administration handle the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi that led to the death of the ambassador there.

Braley, who is running for the Senate seat that comes open in 2014, was asked if it is a bad time for Democrats with all the controversies. “Well I think any time that you have a series of concerns raised like we’ve been seeing this week, that’s a bad week for whomever is the party at the White House that is in control of the executive branch,” Braley says.

He says it’s up to him and other members of Congress to keep maintaining their oversight of the issues to maintain the public’s trust in the government.