The Internal Revenue Service is again in the cross-hairs of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, hit with a subpoena Friday for failing to send an official to testify.
Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, announced the subpoena in a statement late Friday after what he said was the refusal twice by the IRS to allow Mary Howard to testify at hearings next week on the Freedom of Information Act.
Howard is the IRS’s director of privacy, governmental liaison and disclosure, and Chaffetz insisted he wanted her to testify about barriers that limit effective access to public information under FOIA laws.
“Compelling a witness to testify under subpoena is not the preference of this Committee. However, in order to conduct effective oversight we must hear from the individuals with the greatest insight into the issues we are exploring,” Chaffetz said.
In declining to send Howard to Capitol Hill, the IRS offered her boss, Commissioner John Koskinen. In his letter to the IRS, Chaffetz noted he was seeking senior officials from “throughout the executive branch,” not just from the IRS.
During the last congress, the IRS was hit with several subpoenas from the committee and its former chairman, California Republican Darrell Issa, compelling officials to testify about the improper scrutiny of tea party groups and conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status.
Lawmakers are also upset about word this week that hackers managed to steal personal data from the IRS about roughly 104,000 taxpayers. The Senate Finance Committee hold a hearing on that issue next week.